By now, Cowan Lorraine Road was supposed to be four lanes from Interstate 10 to just beyond Pass Road. But MDOT engineers said an improper asphalt mixture prevented Fore Construction from paving the new lanes up to Pass Road.
The work is almost two months behind schedule. And that's created quite a mess for businesses in that area.
Jim Harrell first looked at buying Champion Cleaners in March. At the time, he was told Cowan Road in front of the building would be paved by June 1st.
It's now mid July. Harrell has owned the cleaners for about two months. Yet, dust still greets his customers when they drive toward his shop.
"It's very hard for the customers to get in and out," he said, "for us to service them and continue business."
One of his employees is Sarah Malley. When asked about the road situation, she simply said, "It's just terrible."
Harrell spent the last two days on the phone. He asked state transportation officials for a status report on the Cowan Road widening project. He said the answer he got was that the road in front of his shop would be paved soon.
MDOT's executive director told WLOX News he's coming to Gulfport next week to meet with the contractor on this project. Butch Brown said his goal is to speed up the paving process. According to one of his MDOT engineers, paving work could start in the next couple of weeks, if the contractor's new asphalt mix meets state specifications.
Mary Kate Platts is an antiques dealer on Cowan Road. She was very skeptical of the new time frame. "I've heard that before," she said.
Platts and her customers have dealt with road construction headaches for almost four years. "They can't get in. There's no place to turn around. And they get disgusted and pass me on by," she said.
Those days should end once this half mile section of Cowan Road gets paved. And Jim Harrell can't wait for that moment to come. "I have no doubt that our business will greatly improve as soon as we're able to service our customers."
According to MDOT, Fore Construction is less than 20% behind its construction schedule. If it gets more than 20% behind, the state would step in and restructure the paving contract.