$200 million East Biloxi infrastructure stalled on the tracks

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A lack of permits has stalled $200 million in water, sewer and drainage improvements in East Biloxi indefinitely. At a meeting on Tuesday, Biloxi Council Members learned CSX has yet to sign off on permits from paperwork submitted almost a year ago. The project manager said without CSX's approval nothing can begin in East Biloxi.

In some neighborhoods, away from the tracks, residents are seeing improvements being made.

Jule Miller lives on Kensington Drive. "It's good that we're replacing our infrastructure. I'm sure it needed it, especially after the hurricane."

FEMA money is paying for new water, sewer and drainage in the Katrina flooded parts of the city. Already $55 million worth of work is either underway, has been completed or is in the bidding process. However, the streets in one section of town have gone untouched.

"We have a problem here. We're not even started and yet we're trying to develop the East end of Biloxi to get businesses and everything down there," said Council Member George Lawrence. "We keep hearing the same story. We can't get through the railroad tracks."

Knowing the tracks would be an issue, the project manager says he submitted designs to CSX. That was back in January and still no approval.

Project Manager Marvin Dalla Rosa said, "The railroad, they own that land. Crossing their land you have to meet their permits.  We have been talking to these folks for two and a half years. They've had the permits in front of them since January. They approved part of them. They other part they are not comfortable with."

The work Dalla Rosa said CSX officials are uncomfortable with includes some ditch work along the tracks..

"A ditch that is already there. You're going to clean it out. You're going to shape it. You're working inside the right of way," said Dalla Rosa. "Putting a four foot tall, 28 foot wide box culvert under their main track just scares the heck out of them. They're worried about settlement of the railroad tracks, a quarter inch settlement of the track will derail a train. Going through a town like this they're really concerned."

Council members asked if some work could be done while waiting for CSX. The answer Dalla Rosa gave was no.

"You might get to a point where a contractor doesn't have rights to be in there and CSX might shut the whole thing down and then you have a contractor that is going to charge for every day that he's there and he's being delayed," said Dalla Rosa.

WLOX did call CSX after Tuesday's meeting, but we were unable to reach anyone for comment.

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