The puddles at Hwy. 49 and Polk Street didn't cause much of a traffic mess, but they did create another construction headache. An engineer with the Mississippi Department of Transportation told WLOX News that standing water on the newly paved lanes of Hwy. 49 halted this week's plan to go ahead and stripe the new roadway.
The delay means merchants like Charles Dubra must wait a little longer to get rid of the orange construction barrels near their properties.
"I wish it was over three months ago, four months ago," Dubra said. "But those are the consequences. When it's over, it will be much better. I'll enjoy it."
So will Amanda Davenport. The traffic delays caused by the nearly three-year-old Hwy. 49 widening project took a bite out of Davenport's business.
"It's hard for people to come in," she said. "At times, you can only enter and exit one way. You don't have a north and a south entry."
For some businesses, the construction has created hardships besides traffic delays. Davenport's convenience store had to be moved back 50 feet because the wider Hwy. 49 would have run too close to her business. Two years later, the state project is almost done, and she can stop explaining to both customers and tourists why the highway was such a mess.
"We tell them regularly that it's going to be better," she said, "and to come back and see us."
In a matter of weeks, the Hwy. 49 construction barrels should be gone. And the only reflection of Gulfport drivers will see will be in mirrors, not in standing water.
Originally, MDOT expected the Highway 49 widening project to be done last July. But engineers said utility delays and road modifications postponed the completion date to this August. They also said the new grass medians will be landscaped before the new lanes open.