Gulfport beachfront sidewalks in need of major repairs

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Some sections of concrete are buckling badly, while others have collapsed. There is significant damage to a beachfront sidewalk in Gulfport, but while the problem is easy to spot, assigning responsibility for repairs is more difficult.

It is unsightly and unsafe. The beachfront sidewalk between Cowan and Courthouse Roads in Gulfport has several sections that are either buckling or have collapsed.

"I think it's absurd to leave them like they are," says Andy Schmidt, a frequent walker on the adjoining sand beach walkway.

He says the broken sections of sidewalk are troubling in several ways.

"They need to be fixed. I think it's a safety issue, and it's also an aesthetics issue. Doesn't look good for people to drive along here and see that. It makes the beach look, you know, makes tem wonder what else is not like it ought to be," said Schmidt.

City of Gulfport spokesman Chris Vignes told WLOX News the city has requested a legal opinion to determine whether the city, the county or MDOT is responsible for maintenance.

WLOX News also asked MDOT District Engineer Gabe Faggard who's responsible.

"That's a good question," Faggard said.

It's more than just being unsightly or inconvenient. It's also a safety issue. Imagine being a visitor and unknowingly stepping into an unmarked sidewalk collapse.

Joyce Unsworth and Ashley Baker are frequent beach walkers. They say that question of maintenance responsibility needs to be settled quickly.

"Somebody needs to take responsibility and allocate the money and just go ahead and get the job done. To prevent anyone from having a serious accident when we're trying to get exercise and have a nice day on the beach," said Unsworth.

"It's obvious that it's uneven, and uneven pavement is always a hazard to people," Baker added.

Faggard said since the adjoining sand beach walkway is available for pedestrians and bike riders, there's a chance MDOT maintenance crews may remove the damaged section of sidewalk and not replace them.

MDOT has repaired damaged sidewalk along the beach before. Following Hurricane Isaac, MDOT was responsible for a $130,000 sidewalk repair project that stretched from Broad Avenue in Gulfport, all the way to Henderson Point.

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