Since the hurricane, MDOT has made emergency repairs to Highway 90. It's worked on damage along the I-110 bridge. And it's built a new lane to ease traffic congestion on I-10.
Every emergency project cost money. Well guess what transportation commissioner Wayne Brown told WLOX News. "We're out of money."
And according to the southern district's transportation commissioner, being out of money means MDOT must postpone its two most pressing hurricane recovery projects.
"We're having to take some hard looks," Brown said. "One of the things we're unfortunately having to do is delay the Biloxi bridge and the Bay of St. Louis bridge until January."
Originally, contracts to clear bridge debris and rebuild those bridges were supposed to be signed in December. Now, that's on hold. It's another delay for storm startled south Mississippians like Sylvia Stanley who shake their heads in disbelief every time they see the crumbled Biloxi bridge.
"It's very important," she said of the bridge. "It's our communications with the rest of the world, without going all the way to Gulfport to get there."
According to Brown, "It just takes time for the money to work through the pipeline. And all of a sudden, we find ourselves up against a wall."
Yet Brown tried to put a positive spin on the fact that MDOT was up against a wall. He said a one month delay on new bridge work would give potential builders more time to design better, more cost effective bridges between Biloxi and Ocean Springs and Pass Christian and Bay St. Louis. And he stressed that Mississippi's congressional delegation was already doing what it could to make sure MDOT gets its emergency reimbursements from the federal government as soon as possible.
"We've got to strike, and we've got to strike quick," Brown said. "Every day there's a delay, there is less chance that the American public is going to help us."
Based on Brown's calculations, MDOT has spent $100 million repairing the roads that Katrina bent, buckled and blew apart. But, he said, his agency has only gotten five million dollars back from the Federal Highway Administration.
WLOX News called the federal agency and spoke with a public affairs operator. She was supposed to pass our questions to a public affairs representative, wo we could find out when MDOT could expect to get its money. But nobody from that office ever called us back.