BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Thousands of drivers on Interstate 110 probably don't even realize it, but right now crews are digging a tunnel under the busy roadway. The project is part of efforts to replace Katrina damaged waterlines in Biloxi.
Many times, in order to run a waterline under a road, crews have to dig up a street. Of course, that means detours and for a major thoroughfare like I-110, that would mean major traffic backups. That's why the construction company decided to go in a different direction.
The drilling starts at Hopkins Boulevard with the tunnel extending eastward underneath I-110 and coming out on the other side.
"You inject products in as you're drilling to secure your hole for whatever size pipe you're wanting to pull back through," said Tracy Hickman, Project Manager. "Then you hook to it and pull your pipe back under it and it seals the hole."
The new 500 foot waterline is part of a FEMA funded project to replace infrastructure damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Crews with LJ Construction said the line should give residents better water pressure and better fire protection because of the additional hydrants that can be added. They say doing the job this way will make later repairs much easier.
"This is a 30 inch casing that we're drilling under I-110 with an 18 inch carrier pipe that will be put inside of it," Hickman said. "So in case anything ever does happen, then it can be pulled out and a new one replaced."
Biloxi eventually plans to replace the waterlines all along Highway 90 but decided to go ahead and do this section near Caillavet Street so it wouldn't interfere with construction on the baseball stadium.
Crews said not having to interfere with traffic made this project move much faster. They started on Tuesday and were close to wrapping up on Thursday without drivers on I-110 even noticing a difference.
"By the time you did road closures and detours and all that it would have probably taken two weeks to cut across there, and then everything would have had to been restored back to where traffic could be on it. So, this is definitely an advantage," Hickman said.
LJ Construction officials said they recently installed a new waterline under Interstate 10 near the Ocean Springs exit, and in a few weeks they'll do it again under I-110 near where the bridge was taken down. Traffic will not be affected during this work.