PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - The new Pass Christian harbor should be substantially finished by March. That's the latest word on the project, which has been under construction for more than two years now.
The construction site is enormous, covering some 22 acres adjacent to the existing harbor. Countless tons of concrete and steel are in place, along with 400 concrete piles and some 800 wood piles.
"Sometimes I wonder if I bit off more than I can chew," said Mayor Chipper McDermott. "But we are the commercial harbor around here. When oyster season is running, we get about 150 extra boats in here and hopefully shrimp season is doing well. We're not looking for pleasure boats, we're looking for the commercial boats. That's going to be our niche."
The consultant overseeing the harbor work is pleased with the progress on this massive job site.
"Oh, it feels great. This has been in the works since 2010, so here we are fixing to start out 2014. It's been a process. Yes, it feels good," said Milady Howard.
The new harbor will cater to the commercial seafood industry. It is designed to make it easier on boats dropping off their catch and semi trucks loading it up for delivery.
"It's a platform for the commercial seafood operations, which will be staged here. In this area, there will be some large sheds for cover from the sun and the weather when they offload shrimp boats and oyster boats. There will be an ice house where you see the columns formed up," said the consultant.
Once the construction is finished on the new harbor, then comes the formidable challenge of relocating the commercial seafood interests into the new facility. The mayor says it will definitely be a time of transition.
"A lot of people around, they get a little scared with something new coming. They've been over there for 50 years. But this is going to be a really nice place for them. It's a clean marine harbor. So it's got things we didn't have before. It's really a nice thing," said the mayor.
Mayor McDermott is counting on the harbor project to have a ripple effect on other potential economic development in his city.
"We're hoping if the seafood industry is right, we're gonna be right."