The new Caillavet Street widening eliminates a service road and reduces the right of way, which will save the city up to three million dollars. The changes mean the city will have to buy eight fewer properties and demolish fewer buildings. "It will make a loop that will take a lot of traffic off Highway 90. It will provide an opportunity for more development on Back Bay. When it's all done it's going to be a very worthwhile project," says Ward 6 Councilmember Tom Wall. Ward 2 Councilmember Eric Dickey says, "I think we're gonna see a more beautification type of road improvements which will address a lot of our blightness as well as the sliminess which have been going on in our Caillavet Street, particular areas so I think it's going to be a very positive and a plus."
Council members foresee more parking along Caillavet, which is in short supply right now, and a wider road should bring more development. Caillavet Street has dominated much of Mayor A.J. Holloway's administration and he's the first to say it's been a nightmare. The mayor says uprooting homes and businesses has cost him some friendships. But he believes the project is best for the city's future. "After this reconstruction I think it will be economic revitalization for that part of Biloxi. I look for a lot of retail to come in there when we do the redevelopment area there," says Holloway.
The mayor and council members say there's no telling when the work will wrap up, with the mayor even joking that it could be 2005. But with a scaled back plan, Holloway says he expects construction to start within the next year and a half.