M-DOT crews battle blowing, drifting sand - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

M-DOT crews battle blowing, drifting sand

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) -

Blowing sand is covering traffic lanes, clogging storm drains and creating hazardous driving conditions. M-DOT maintenance workers are trying to keep pace with the wayward sand.

They're waiting for the strong southerly winds to die down, but that hasn't happened yet. Workers can get frustrated because the blowing and drifting sand covers the highway nearly as quickly as they clean it.

The southern district of M-DOT has dedicated nearly all of its maintenance crews and much of its heavy equipment to keep the highway open and safe.

So far, it's an uphill battle. The sand storm along Highway 90 is a formidable foe against an army of M-DOT workers.

"It's extremely bad. It's been bad, and it's gonna keep being bad. Strong winds, as strong as they are, it's blowing sand in as fast as we can pick it up," said M-DOT supervisor Speedy Rettig.

M-DOT supervisor Speedy Rettig helps oversee a dozen pieces of heavy equipment and a crew of more than 50 men working along Highway 90.

Along many stretches, it's tough to distinguish beach from road.

"When it's this bad, it really don't matter where you start. As a normal rule, we do try and take the worst areas and get them first, then work on the smaller areas. This is bad from one end to the other, so we've got equipment everywhere," said Rettig.

Drivers should avoid 90 if they can, or at least be extra cautious if they must travel it.

"The sand is very tricky to drive on. It can give out from under you, cause vehicles to turn unexpectedly. And with work crews right there, it is very hazardous," he explained.

Sand beach crews normally groom the sand, keeping it off the seawall steps but not in this weather.

"When we get a wind event like this, in a matter of a few hours it gets built back up and it ramps up. We've done the dune project. There's about 700,000 plants in the ground, but they're not mature enough to effectively catch this sand," said Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver.

Not only is drifting sand a driving hazard, it's tough on your car. Especially brakes and air filters.

"All the air that you run through your engine goes through your air filter. If the sand is blowing, it clogs up. And you're not getting the proper amount of air. It definitely is not good for your car. It gets in your brakes and it's very harmful for your brakes. It'll eat up the rotors, eat up the pads," said Danny Leggett, owner of Leggett's Tire & Auto in Long Beach.

Thankfully, all that blowing and drifting sand doesn't have to be wasted. In fact, it's being recycled.

M-DOT crews are stockpiling it in the parking log at the foot of Courthouse Road.

Sand beach crews can then use this sand to replenish the shoreline wherever it's needed.

M-DOT is working 12 to 17 hour shifts to try and keep up with the sand removal. The project is expected to continue through the weekend.

Expect intermittent lane closures and do your best to avoid those sections of road covered with sand.

Copyright 2011 WLOX. All rights reserved.

  • NEWSMore>>

  • Three people shot at Biloxi nightclub

    Three people shot at Biloxi nightclub

    Saturday, January 20 2018 3:37 AM EST2018-01-20 08:37:34 GMT
    (Source: File)(Source: File)

    Biloxi Police are searching for a man they believed opened fire outside a nightclub late Friday, injuring three people. It happened in the parking lot of the Horseshoe Lounge, a gentleman's club on Veterans Avenue. 

    More >>

    Biloxi Police are searching for a man they believed opened fire outside a nightclub late Friday, injuring three people. It happened in the parking lot of the Horseshoe Lounge, a gentleman's club on Veterans Avenue. 

    More >>
  • Two arrested for burglary and restaurant fire, police say

    Two arrested for burglary and restaurant fire, police say

    Friday, January 19 2018 9:43 PM EST2018-01-20 02:43:18 GMT
    Police say the suspects took a safe and a cash register before setting the restaurant ablaze. (Photo Source: WLOX)Police say the suspects took a safe and a cash register before setting the restaurant ablaze. (Photo Source: WLOX)

    Two men have been arrested after they allegedly stole from a Saucier restaurant and set the building on fire. 

    More >>

    Two men have been arrested after they allegedly stole from a Saucier restaurant and set the building on fire. 

    More >>
  • Defense rests in trial of nurse charged with manslaughter

    Defense rests in trial of nurse charged with manslaughter

    Friday, January 19 2018 9:34 PM EST2018-01-20 02:34:06 GMT
    The manslaughter trial for Carmen Brannan, pictured here in court in May 2017, began Thursday. She is accused of denying medical care to a patient in the county jail. (Source: WLOX)The manslaughter trial for Carmen Brannan, pictured here in court in May 2017, began Thursday. She is accused of denying medical care to a patient in the county jail. (Source: WLOX)

    The defense rested late Friday night in the trial of nurse accused in the death of a former patient.

    More >>

    The defense rested late Friday night in the trial of nurse accused in the death of a former patient.

    More >>
Powered by Frankly