GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Workers are busy digging holes, planting more trees and grass along Highway 90 in Gulfport.
"This will become the model possibly for the rest of the 26 miles of Highway 90, what used to be Old Spanish Trail. So it will look like more of what it did at the turn of the 20th century," MSU Landscape Architect Dr. Pete Melby said.
This new look is designed to not only be attractive, but to also cut costs for the county.
"We lose about a foot to a foot and a half of sand every month," Melby said, "costing Harrison County $8 million to $10 million about every eight to ten years."
"The beach protects the sea wall. The sea wall protects Highway 90. And that protects our economy," MSU Engineering Professor Tom Carthcart said. "So the whole thing, in my point of view, is protecting what matters in South Mississippi."
Some WLOX viewers have called the station saying the trees look dead. But the architect for the project tells us the trees are in shock adjusting to their new environment. The Sand Beach Department has been watering the trees every other day and many of them are already turning green again.
"You are going to get five to ten percent that don't survive for various reasons, and we have a guarantee on the trees," Melby said.
The planting phase will be complete this week. Harrison County officials say phase two of the Gateway to the Coast project will begin soon after.
"Where people park, we will stain the concrete a different color, instead of the highway color. We are going to have sections that are tan, coral and turquoise."
The benches will also be moved closer together, there will be a welcome sign, fire pit and gazebo.
"To bring more tourists here and help the tax base here," Melby said, "and I think that is going to happen."