Ocean Springs beachfront sidewalk falling apart

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - By Doug Walker – bio | email

OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - It took $2 million and more than a year to build. Now, after being open for less than six months, the beach sidewalk in Ocean Springs is starting to crack and crumble.

The city alderman who oversees this area of the city, Matt McDonnell, is fuming.

"It's unacceptable. We've had problems with this project from the very beginning." McDonnell said.  "The drainage hasn't been correct, now the quality of the workmanship is beginning to show that it's not very good either and these are things we've been addressing with the contractor and the engineering firm for months."

One of those engineers is Dax Alexander of Brown and Mitchell, the firm that helped design the project.  He said repairing the problems will take a major effort on several areas of the sidewalk.

"Some of the more problematic panels are going to simply be removed and replaced by the contractor," Alexander said. "They'll be torn out and they can limit the removal to some of the joints."

City officials are spending a lot of time on coming up with answers as to why this happened in the first place. They are confident the cracks can be fixed, but for how long remains a mystery.

Eric Meyer is the city's director of planning.

"I think we've got a proposal on fixing the cracks," Meyer said.  "I think the question is will that fix hold up and for what period of time?"

Despite several meetings between city officials and the engineers and contractors who built this sidewalk, nothing has been done yet to alleviate the problems. McDonnell said it should come as no surprise where the whole thing may wind up.

"Well, I guess that would be for a court of law to decide. But I can tell you this much, I'm not going to sit back and allow those kinds of public dollars to be wasted on a bad project."

City officials say they are withholding about $100,000 in final payments to the contractor until the problem is fixed.

The estimated cost of the repairs is about $130,000, but that money has already been appropriated by the city.

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