Biloxi mayor proposes new department to manage infrastructure wo - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Biloxi mayor proposes new department to manage infrastructure work

Biloxi's mayor believes creating a new department is the best way to oversee hundreds of millions of dollars in street and drainage work. (Photo source: WLOX) Biloxi's mayor believes creating a new department is the best way to oversee hundreds of millions of dollars in street and drainage work. (Photo source: WLOX)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Biloxi's mayor believes creating a new department is the best way to oversee hundreds of millions of dollars in street and drainage work. For years, HNTB has been serving as project manager for all the FEMA infrastructure work, but that contract is up in February. 

These days East Biloxi is full of bumpy roads and grumpy drivers. Biloxi Council Member Felix Gines said many of the gripes about are about the slow progress along Division Street. 

"If we don't get that done at a fast rate, then you're talking about the deaths of a lot of businesses," Gines said. "Right now our businesses have been struggling. Our citizens with their vehicles have been struggling." 

The mayor wants to take the engineering section of the public works department and create an engineering department that would be in charge of overseeing millions in infrastructure improvements. He's still getting the numbers together, but he believes this strategy to project management would cost half of the $300,000 a month that HNTB is charging now. 

"We know that we need to have project management. There's no question," Mayor FoFo Gilich said. "So how do we do that? That's our answer to not being able to have a third [party] like HNTB."  

From now until February, HNTB staff and city employees will be spending a lot of time together. 

"We've got to know what's done on a daily basis," said Gilich . "We're probably going to have some of our people who are going to be hand in hand with them over the next eight weeks so when they're not here anymore. We know what to do and how we interact with MEMA and FEMA and the actual contractors, too."

Gines said he thinks residents will be happier with the city at the helm.

"The reorganization will be an advantage for the citizens of Biloxi because it will be more expedient," said Gines. "That means the payments will go off faster. The work will get completed faster. Engineering will have less change orders, which means faster services for the citizens." 

Biloxi leaders said the city has about $1 million for project management expenses that should carry them until about August, but they are continuing to negotiate with FEMA. If a new engineering department is created, officials say the current public works director will be become the head and another person will be appointed director of public works. 

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