PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - An ambitious $800,000 makeover is about to begin on a section of beachfront in Pascagoula. It's called the promenade project. Improvements include a pedestrian sidewalk, landscaping, lighting, parking and benches.
"The first phase is going to be a 10 foot wide concrete sidewalk with brick pavers, benches and some removable barriers and decorative lighting that will give people a place off the road to walk and bicycle and enjoy the beach," City Engineer Jaci Turner explained.
She also said safety is going to be a key component of the plan.
"This will obviously separate the pedestrians from the traffic with some good barriers to keep them safe and keep them out of the direct line of traffic," Turner said.
People who use the beach, like Bill Jones, like that idea.
"Well, safety is always good. As you can see the car going by right here, people are basically on the side of the road," Jones said. "Anywhere you have sidewalks, it's going to improve the safety and it will get them on the south side of the barrier there, so that should be a good thing."
For the longest time, the beachfront in Pascagoula has been popular with the locals, not so much for out of towners. But city officials are hoping these improvements will change that dramatically.
"We've always had the beach that we just call the sandbox, but now that we have the expanded beach, we see more people here already and the more activity and the more things that we bring to the beachfront are going to increase that activity," Pascagoula Recreation Director Darcie Crew said.
A better beach could mean something else as well, according to City Manager Joe Huffman.
"We've got a great deal of residential area between Highway 90 and the beach," Huffman explained. "When you think about how that will attract people to move to the city of Pascagoula, what it will add for residents, I think that's a very prominent feature."
The first phase of the project should be finished later this year. The $800,000 price tag is funded with a grant from the state Department of Transportation with a 20 percent match from the city.
To build a promenade on the rest of the beach would cost about $4.5 million. City officials are hoping to receive Restore Act funds from the BP oil spill settlement to cover that portion of the project.