Boardwalk Demolition Begins; New Concrete Walkway Will Replace It

HARRISON COUNTY (WLOX) -- Debris that was once Harrison County's boardwalk is on its way to a scrap yard. On Monday morning, contractors finally began dismantling broken sections of the wood and steel walkway.

FEMA is picking up the $10 million tab to haul off and then rebuild the eight miles of wooden boardwalk that were destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.

The work is a sight for sore eyes. After 33 long months, people who long for a stroll along the beach without getting sand in their shoes, may be closer to getting their wish.

"I understand their concern and frustration because I share that as well," said Harrison County Sand Beach Director Bobby Weaver.

The battered boards along Harrison County's weather beaten walkway are finally being hauled off. Weaver knows the demolition work took a lot longer than anybody wanted. "it was a process we had to go through. Finally we've made it. Contractor's out there working today, demoing the existing timber boardwalk," he said.

One of the men on the construction crew is Randy Flores. The Saucier man understands the significance of this demolition project.

"As far as here, this is our coast. This is what's going to keep us all alive here is this coast throughout the years," he said.

In two-and-a-half months, construction teams will have the entire boardwalk removed -- from Henderson Point to Casino Row.

"It's been a long, drawn out process. But I think when we're said and done with it, people will be pleased with the final project," Weaver said.

Once the debris is gone, a new boardwalk will be built. But instead of using wood, and taking a chance that this could happen again, the county has chosen a concrete surface for its next walkway along its seawall.

"The timber came loose, and we wanted to make sure that it didn't happen again," explained Weaver.

So do the contractors, because they know the importance of this project to south Mississippi and its coastline.

"This is where everybody comes to," said Flores.

Weaver said the new concrete boardwalk should be finished by December, 2009.