HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Soon people who enjoy a nice bike ride or walk along the beach will be able to extend their trip a little longer in Hancock County. MDOT awarded Hancock County $800,000 to extend the bike and pedestrian path that runs along Beach Boulevard. Leaders said they expect improving access to the beach to draw more people.
Some people around Bay St. Louis said the bike and pedestrian path goes a long way in luring both locals and tourists to the Hancock County's beach front.
"I think that's great because a lot of people ride bicycles," said Sheila Weisner.
Business owner Laura Lucore said, "They need to be able to get around town easy walking and biking. Get their cars parked and get around easily walking and biking."
The path starts at Washington Street in Bay St. Louis then ends six miles later in Waveland at Dale Street. With a grant from MDOT, officials said they are looking to make a connection that will allow people to ride all the way from downtown Bay St. Louis into popular areas like Buccaneer State Park and the beach around Silver Slipper casino.
Geoffrey Clemens of Compton Engineering said, "Now we're starting to bridge the gaps between where we have sand beach down by the casino and where we just have seawall and no sand beach."
Clemens said the design of the extent ion will differ slightly from the existing path.
"This grant may not get us all way connected from one end to another but will start filling in the pieces in between and hopefully get some of those areas that now we don't have access to will be contiguous to the bike path we have currently," Clemens said.
With a longer bike path and a few amenities, Hancock County supervisors expect the beach to become even more of a hot spot once the weather warms up.
"Hopefully next year in the Springtime we'll have our beach looking just great," said Lisa Cowand, Board President. "We'll have our vendors just as Harrison County utilizes their hot spots with their vendors. We're going to have the same venues here whether it be the jet skis or the snowballs, the surreys and canoes. There's a great market here."
Cowand said the Hancock County is also considering adding parking bays in some areas on the south side of Beach Boulevard so families won't have to cross the street. She said if that happens the project would not be paid for out of the $800,000 MDOT grant.