Construction was ahead of schedule. The new Caillavet Street with more lanes and wider sidewalks should have been finished by today. Hurricane Katrina put the brakes on the $9 million project.
Mayor A.J. Holloway is ready for the post-Katrina red light to change colors.
"I think it's very important for the city to get Caillavet Street back and get it moving," he said.
Last week, Holloway met with Caillavet Street's contractor and its engineers. They found weakened asphalt in the newly paved lanes, cracked sidewalks, and unusable limestone roadbeds. The damage was all caused by Katrina. And the price tag to repair the mess is close to a million and a half dollars.
"The bad news I've gotten right here recently is we thought the Federal Highway Administration would pay for the repairs that we're going to have to do," Holloway said.
But according to the mayor, the FHA said no way. Because the project was under contract, the mayor was told it didn't qualify for federal assistance.
So what will Biloxi do to cover the Caillavet Street repair costs? Holloway has one idea.
"We're going to FEMA now. Hopefully FEMA will pay for it," he said.
The mayor is fairly sure Biloxi will get the repair money. And within a month, he expects the north/south project to be back on track. Holloway insists Caillavet Street should be finished six months after widening work resumes.
Biloxi is widening Caillavet Street to create a downtown loop. The city is hopeful that improvements to Caillavet and to Back Bay Boulevard will bring new developers to the area.