Biloxi's still in the middle of a state of emergency. Yet, the city's mayor is focusing some of his energy on Biloxi's pre-Katrina "to do" list. For instance, when A.J. Holloway gave his state of the city address on Monday, he said transportation projects that were put on hold after the storm had to become a priority again.
Those road issues rekindle thoughts about a new east west corridor through Biloxi. And they spark more talk about expanding the Popp's Ferry bridge to make it a true north south connector. Both ideas were included in Mayor Holloway's 35 minute speech about the state of Biloxi in 2008. "Our potential and our promise are greater today than at any other time in our history. We're on the right track," the mayor told Biloxi Bay Chamber members.
The word history was an important component of Mayor Holloway's 15th state of the city address. "We went from a city that was enjoying the greatest time in its 300 year history to a city that was devastated by a monster storm, to a city today that is reaching a milestone -- large or small -- each and every day," he said.
The mayor's speech outlined a broad array of projects that can get Biloxi back where it was before the storm. He boasted about the 20,000 permits issued since the recovery started. But he lamented the fact that just 362 new homes have been built in his city.
Holloway praised Biloxi's billion dollar casino industry. But he warned future developers not to get too greedy with casino site locations. "As I've said before, casinos are the engine driving our economy," he admitted. "But I want to be a city with casinos, not a casino city."
The newest initiative Mayor Holloway mentioned during his state of the city address focused on transportation. Holloway said studies must be done to get a new east west corridor and a new north south bridge over Biloxi's back bay on track again. "They are going to take years of planning, and millions of dollars. But I think we need to continue to do the ground work because they are very important to our future," he thought.
Holloway said the state of Biloxi is recovering. And its future is extremely bright. "I am proud to say that we are making progress each and every day here in Biloxi," he said.
For instance, the mayor noted that eight new subdivisions, with nearly 500 new homes, are in the planning stages. And he said architects were coming up with construction plans to repair the Biloxi lighthouse, the Old Brick House, and many of the city's hurricane damaged fire stations.