MDOT's Storm Recovery Tab Nears $700 Million

Another $100 million is about to be spent to repair hurricane damaged roads. MDOT will find out Tuesday which contractors would like to repave Highway 90. That repaving project is included in the nearly $300 million MDOT will spend from now through the end of next year to finish its Gulf Coast Transportation recovery work.

The agency has already put $672 million into emergency road repairs since that fateful day almost two years ago. Much of MDOT's recovery money has gone into reconnecting the three coastal counties.

The new bridges over Biloxi's back bay and St. Louis Bay are the most visible signs of MDOT's commitment to put south Mississippi on a path toward recovery. Keith Crosby has watched the bridge go up from day one.

"As you can see, the progress is significant," the Palace Casino general manager said. "These guys aren't fooling around."

Crosby is like countless others who live in one county, but work across the bay.

"The progress they're making on the bridge gives you hope that sooner or later that thing will be available for not just the residents and our associates getting to work, but our customers, too," he said.

MDOT pointed out in a news release that it's done a lot more with the $672 million in hurricane recovery money than just replace bridges. It's reconnected traffic lights, repaired guard rails and replaced street signs. It's also planted 3,000 of these trees along the Highway 90 median. And this fall, it begins tearing up the highway's warped roadbed, so a trip down the beach can be a smooth ride again.

CTA bus drivers look forward to that. They've bounced up and down in their seats quite a bit since Katrina. One driver said certain parts of the highway were worse than others, "but you expect that on any highway."

Once the highway that runs parallel to the Mississippi Sound is repaved, the hurricane induced ruts should be gone. As bus driver Bobby Hutchison said, "It will be nicer for everybody."

Of the $672 million spent on roads and bridges since the storm, a little more than five million dollars came from the state. An MDOT e-mail says the rest of the money came from the federal government.