Blowing Sand Making A Mess Along Highway 90 - - The News for South Mississippi

Blowing Sand Making A Mess Along Highway 90

BILOXI (WLOX) -- It's that time of year again. Strong winds that stir up water in the Mississippi Sound and straighten flags along the beach, are pushing windswept waves of sand onto the highway.

Sections of sand as thick as Illinois snow banks can soon become a driving hazard.

"It can," says highway engineer Kelly Castleberry, "And that's the reason we do have crews out in the areas that are kind of rough right now. Especially in front of Edgewater Mall. We have a crew working right now. Usually we try to wait until the wind dies down some, because the sand just keeps coming."

Trouble is, the wind has been especially stubborn all week. Highway crews have a tough time keeping pace with the persistent blowing and drifting.

"Usually, if it's over three inches we'll have crews on site removing the sand. If it's below three inches, we have sweeper trucks that can actually pick up the sand," says Castleberry, who works for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Sand fences along some sections of beach help prevent the problem. And more fencing will soon be added.

The Katrina-damaged boardwalk isn't helping. Wayward sand blows and flows right through the broken boards.

The ongoing beach restoration project includes plans for more sand dunes to help control erosion and stop blowing sand. Sand Beach director Bobby Weaver told WLOX News he's working with the Army Corps of Engineers on a $3 million project to plant more dune vegetation at selected sites all along the 26 mile beach.

Until more fences and dunes are finished, highway crews will do their best to stay ahead of the annual sand encroachment.

"Not so much a nuisance. Just part of having a scenic highway along the beach," said Castleberry.

Bids for building a new boardwalk along the beach will be opened this Tuesday. The replacement walkway will be mostly concrete.

Also, there's now about 10,000 linear feet of sand fence along the beach. That will be increased to 50,000 feet.

By Steve Phillips

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