BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Work is underway to get Ship Island ready for spring visitors. Last fall, Hurricane Nate damage the ferry pier, the cross-island boardwalk, the snack bar, restrooms and other buildings on the barrier island. Officials with Gulf Islands National Seashore awarded a $78,001 contract to On the Water LLC of Biloxi to repair the boardwalk. The contract to repair the ferry pier is expected to be finalized in the next few days.
The Ship Island Ferry usually begins sailing in mid-March. Ferry Captain Louis Skrmetta told WLOX News Now he met with Gulf Islands National Seashore Superintendent Dan Brown last week and remains hopeful repairs will be made quickly. The Ship Island Ferry website lists March 17 as the first day of the 2018 season, but Skrmetta said he knows that target could be hard to hit.
"Repairs to island facilities damaged by Hurricane Nate have been delayed due to delays in the federal budget process including a budget supplemental for storm recovery," Brown said in an email to WLOX News Now.
Complicating the process, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria caused massive damage to other national parks compared to the damage from Nate.
"Until storm recovery monies are received, park staff will do priority repairs including the snack bar and restrooms so the ferry concessioner, Ship Island Excursions, can begin operations," Brown said.
According to Skrmetta, 57,000 to 58,000 people visit Ship Island each year.