After two years of paperwork and planning, Harrison County Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver was looking forward to tearing down the battered wooden boardwalk, and replacing it with a concrete Pedestrian Pathway.
"I was really excited about it," said Bobby Weaver. "We were getting to the point where bids were going to be open."
But the project came to a screeching halt when three contractors who were rebuilding Highway 90, found out that boardwalk work would mean temporarily lane closures. The contractors are facing a tight deadline. They have until December 31st, 2008, to finish reconstructing 26 miles of the highway. Any delays would be costly.
"For every day the contractor is late, they'll have about $9,400 in penalties," David Seyfarth, MDOT District Area Engineer. "Now what we're trying to do is avoid those penalties for our contractors and meet our deadlines."
"That left us possibly looking at a January, 2009, date to actually receive bids, which for my part, that wasn't acceptable," Weaver said. "But we were kind of at the mercy of the MDOT and the three contractors at that point."
So the county agreed to work around the Highway 90 construction schedule. Which means the boardwalk project would be done in segments to avoid any conflicts.
"They had to the right to say 'No, don't start there. Start at another location.' So we thought that was very amenable, because we understand their constraint and are willing to work with them on that," Weaver said.
"We have been in discussion with the contractors and we're making every effort we can to get those issues resolved immediately, because we want to help Sand Beach get its project off the ground," Seyfarth said.
Harrison County is now waiting to get permission letters from the Highway 90 contractors, and the green light from MDOT.
The county also agreed to another condition: The contractor the county hires to build the boardwalk would have to pay for any damages to Highway 90. The Mississippi Transportation Commission is expected to take up the issue at its meeting on January 8th.