Ocean Springs Road Project Fuels Frustration

Frustrations are growing in Ocean Springs over the lack of construction work on Highway 90.

A project to widen the busy road began early this year. The first few weeks saw plenty of activity with heavy equipment and road construction crews.

But in recent months, the project has come to a standstill.

The signs warning drivers of roadwork ahead are a little misleading. Drivers do have to find their way around the familiar orange and white barrels. But there's no work underway.

"The past 10 or 11 weeks have been perfect weather construction wise and they haven't turned a shovelful of dirt on the project," said restaurant owner, Jack Gottsche.

That lack of progress annoys Gottsche and other merchants.

A temporary entrance directs customers to his business.

"All the merchants here on Highway 90 are as disturbed as I am about the plethora of orange barrels and no progress. No rain. No progress. And none of us understands what's going on."

The construction barrels went up the same day Andy Webb opened his pawn shop on Highway 90. Webb understands the need to widen the busy road. But he too wonders why there's been no sign of construction work lately.

"It's just access to our parking there. They've got those cones out and they've got this drainage system here that's wide open with cones around it. It just makes it hard to get in and out. It's very difficult," said Webb.

Assistant district engineer, Melinda McGrath, told WLOX News the state can't require the contractor to work on the project at any certain time. The only deadline in writing is the project's completion date: September 3rd of 2002.

"The status is that the contractor has pulled off the job to go work on some other projects," said McGrath.

The contractor, Mallette Brothers Construction, plans to resume work on Highway 90 the first of next year.

That means a few more weeks of frustration for merchants like Jack Gottsche.

"And I'm powerless to do anything about it. That's what's frustrating."