Dangerous Biloxi dock to be demolished and rebuilt

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Peyton Nguyen looks like a trapeze artist every time he tries to reach his shrimp boat at the end of the pier.  His hands grab the shaky ropes while he tries to balance himself on the narrow wooden boards. Imagine having to do this while hauling tools and equipment.

"I have to walk very carefully, watch my step, make sure I'm steady. I've fallen in the water before, at least twice," said Nguyen. "They need to fix this immediately. It's just too dangerous."

It's been nearly six years since Hurricane Katrina destroyed the Lighthouse Fishing Dock in Biloxi's Back Bay. Yet today, it's still scarred with gaping holes, torn up decking, and exposed pipes and nails. There's also no water or electricity.

"It's dangerous. I wouldn't advise the public to go. The people that use it every day know where to walk and how to walk on it, and we've done a lot of temporary repairs," said Frankie Duggan, Biloxi Port Manager.

A permanent fix has taken longer than the city expected.

"It's been a lot of problems with getting red tape through with FEMA," said Duggan. "At one point, we were going to tear the whole thing down and rebuild it in one piece. But if we did, we'd displace a lot of these boats, and there's no other public docks for boats this size. So we decided to rebuild it in sections. We had to go back to FEMA again to get approval."

Now that FEMA has approved the plans, the next step is getting dredging permits.

"In 60 days it could be out for bids, ready to go," said Duggan. "We're looking forward to it and get our shrimpers back in business with something nice and new that they can be proud of."

Peyton Nguyen is thrilled with the news.

"I'm happy. Yeah, I'm happy when they fix it," he said.

It should take about eight months to demolish and rebuild the dock. The project is expected to cost about $2 million. Despite the dock's rundown condition, the shrimpers still have to pay monthly slip fees. The money is used to pay for security and the temporary repairs.

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