GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport city officials, along with MDOT and construction officials, broke ground Wednesday morning on a major road improvement project that has been in the works for years. The one mile stretch of 28th Street from 34th Avenue to 22nd Avenue is now a two lane roadway. Soon, it will be five lanes, including a curb, gutter and sidewalks on both sides.
"We welcome you to this much anticipated dedication for 28th Street for the widening. You can't spend any appreciable time in Gulfport without traveling 28th Street," Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes said with excitement.
Hewes describes 28th Street as one of the main roadways of the city. The groundbreaking ceremony celebrated the partnering of those who are turning a long awaited idea into a reality.
Commuters in the area may not have gotten a formal invite to the ceremony, but they're happy the road project will finally begin.
"It's very narrow, and it's very rough, and it is contagious to your car. I have done a lot of work on this one from hitting that road. It's bad. It's real bad," Gulfport resident Albert Burns said.
Construction Manager Huey Stockstill, of Huey Stockstill, Inc., says he knows how important this project is to the City of Gulfport and those who use the roadway, so completing the work in a timely and clean manner is important to him.
"Obviously, we're excited," Stockstill said. "The road is in terrible shape, so we have a good game plan going into it. Hopefully, we'll capitalize on that and get this thing done in a timely manner and hopefully ahead of schedule."
City officials say the relief that commuters will feel to finally see the work completed will be a reflection of the commitment the city council and administration have shown in dealing with the infrastructure throughout the city.
"Yes, it will be a sigh of relief if I'm still living down here and have to travel up and down it. Yeah, it will be a sigh of relief," Burns said with a smile.
City officials say this project is just an indicator of what can be expected in the future improvements to roads in Gulfport.
The total project cost is estimated to be $5.2 million. This includes approximately $528,000 contributed by the city for preliminary engineering, land acquisition, environmental studies, permitting and legal. The Federal Highway Administration is contributing approximately $4.3 million of the total project cost.
The official notice to proceed on the road project is set for Friday, and work will begin Monday.