Work On Biloxi Small Craft Harbor Hits A Snag

Cleaning out the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor has proven to be a more difficult job than work crews anticipated. For almost two months, L&A Contractors have been pulling broken piers out of this harbor. The project was sailing along, until several of the pilings snapped in half.

Before the pilings snapped, port commission director was thrilled with what he was witnessing.

"We're excited about it coming back," he said.

The hurricane battered recreational harbor was about to get larger dock space. What was a 142 dock facility will have just 132 spots for boats once the restoration project is completed.

The rebirth of the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor started in October when cranes began removing battered piers from the water. Duggan says the harbor looks so lonely right now.

"Yes it does. And it looks a lot smaller now that it's empty, too," he said.

Barnacle covered wooden and concrete pilings that were once embedded 35 feet below the surface now line the perimeter. That's where they're being stored until they can be hauled into the gulf to make a fishing reef.

Getting cranes to dislodge the large chunks and lift the hurricane damaged piers out of the water became quite difficult after a problem surfaced. Lynn Cox is an on site representative for L&A Contractors, the company hired to clean and rebuild the harbor.

"There was a lot of debris which broke off piles," he explained.

And the $6.5 million Biloxi harbor renovation project can't move into its next phase until those broken pilings are removed from the harbor's floor.

"Right," Cox said, "Just part of the job."

Cox said as many as three broken piling must be dug out of the mud. And that work should begin later in the week.

The deadline to complete the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor restoration project remains the same. Contractors expect a new, 132 slip marina to be finished in March.

"I hope that happens," said Duggan. "They did lose some time with the threat of a hurricane at the onset. They've had a lot of problems with the pilings trying to pull up wanting to break off. But, they've been really working at it hard. So, hopefully we'll make that."

The Biloxi Port Commission oversees four harbors. The small craft harbor is the only one where work is underway. According to Frankie Duggan, plans are being drawn up for the commercial harbor next door, and the Point Cadet Marina. But the city still hasn't set a time deadline for its shrimp docks on the back bay.