LONG BEACH, MS (WLOX) - One of the great features of the Gulf Coast is its harbors, but during tropical storms and hurricanes, the harbors can be threatened. That’s why Long Beach leaders are looking to make their harbor more secure.
If Mayor George Bass has his way, the Long Beach Harbor will be getting bigger. The expansion proposal isn’t necessarily to add space for more boats but to protect the harbor.
“Every time we have these storms, even if they were nothing more than tropical storms, we have damage to our harbor,” Bass said. “It’s completely exposed.”
As a vessel owner using the Long Beach harbor for the last 11 years, John Heaton has seen storms come and go and thinks improvements can be made.
“We have to evacuate with even just a tropical storm,” Heaton said. “If we had a little wider moorings and stuff like that it would be good.”
The initial renderings are part of the harbor’s master plan. The plan calls for sprucing up the area around the harbor while keeping the focus on improving conditions for the vessels.
“I think they deserve to have a harbor that’s protected, and every time we have a minor storm coming in that they won’t be required to go move their boats out and have the storm change directions within eight hours and go somewhere else,” Bass said.
Although the goal of an expansion 500 feet to the south wouldn’t be to add more slips, Bass would like to see larger boats accommodated.
“We could maybe make it more inviting for some more commercial fishermen to come in,” Bass said.
The expansion wouldn’t be cheap. It comes with a $45 million price tag. Bass is going to Washington D.C. next month to seek federal funding, not only for the harbor, but also for other projects in the city like flooding control. He said money now would prevent repairs in the future.
“I need to know how much it’s going to cost us to get 100 percent of the plans done and tell them (federal government) if they give me that money to finish the plans in 120 days and you give me the money to get started, we’ll be ready,” Bass said.
According to Bass, the harbor expansion project has already received approval from the Corp of Engineers.