Crumbling Road Has Gautier Neighbors Concerned For Drivers

Neighbors say a stretch of Old Spanish Trail Road in Gautier is an accident waiting to happen. Workers dug up the ground to install water lines and then covered it. Now a month later, the dirt is gone and the road near Shell Landing Boulevard is starting to give way.

Gautier's Public Works Director Jere Shuster says his department has done its best to fix the erosion problem. Crews put down rocks and sod, but Shuster says the heavy rain has undone everything they've tried to do.

Residents, though, fear tragedy is just down the road.

"They didn't do it right," said Gautier resident Lonnie Hopkins.

If "done right," Hopkins believes the sod that was in the ditch in front of his house would still be there.

He says in the last month water has washed away much of the ditch. It's now six to eight inches deeper than it was when workers finished covering the water lines. He blames the City of Gautier for not having the foresight to prevent the erosion.

"When they come through and put this water line down, they didn't put a fence or anything to hold the soil in case it rained," said Hopkins. "They just came through here as fast as they can and the cheapest way they could and put it down."

Further down Old Spanish Trail, Hopkins pointed out what he says were once buried phone wires.

"This thing used to stand straight up out of the ground and it had a tall round," said Hopkins. "There's nothing there no more."

David Walters has been documenting the decay of the roadway. He says it paints a dangerous picture of what's to come.

For instance, there is a spot where a post is on the verge of giving way and in several areas the shoulder is disappearing.

"As you can see the whole road and the ditch are starting to give way," he said. "As soon as more water gets in there, it's going to go. Or if a heavy truck or vehicle gets pushed to the side, they're going get in this ditch and flip over and, unfortunately, somebody is going to get killed."

Now, Walters and Hopkins say it's in the city's hands to act before someone gets hurt.

"I'd like to see them refix this," said Walters. "Fill in it, put some mesh over, put some straw over it, plant some grass. Do something or fill in this ditch,"

"I didn't call, I went down there. And every time I go down there, I get a different answer of when they're going to do it," said Hopkins.

Gautier's Public Works Director Jere Shuster says he too is concerned about public safety. However, until Mother Nature cooperates, he says there is little he can do because the rain will wash away any new dirt they put down. For now, he's asking the public to be patient.