Pass Christian ready to launch multi-million dollar harbor expansion

PASS CHRISTIAN, MS (WLOX) - You can't miss all the construction going on at the Pass Christian Harbor these days. On one side, there is a $200,000 project to repair two boat launches.

"We had a grant from Tidelands that we had our money in and we repaired them. So that's been a little inconvenience to the fishermen, but now it's ready to go," said Pass Christian Mayor Chipper McDermott.

And on the other side of the harbor, pilings are going up for a new Department of Marine Resources check station.

"That's a permanent station they'll be building back here. Like everything else down here, it'd be 26 feet in the air," said McDermott.

The biggest change will occur just east of the DMR construction site. Thursday night, the city will open bids on a $28 million harbor expansion. It's a project that will transform the look of the waterfront.

The project will add 254 slips for commercial and recreational vessels, along with piers, extra parking and other amenities. Three seafood dealers will move to the new harbor, closer to Davis Avenue.

The first phase of the project involves putting in the pilings. Then, crews will dredge 350,000 cubic yards of sand.

"It's going to be a 10-foot depth, which is deeper than the existing harbor we have now so we can accommodate larger boats," said McDermott. "And it's going to have a splash pad. We're going to have a lot of things down at this other harbor that we didn't have."

"I think it's going to be great," said Pass Christian Harbor Master Willie Davis. "It's going to be good for the city of Pass Christian for one. It'll help create some revenue, but also create a lot more jobs. Just my staff alone is going to have to double, so we could take care of both sides of the harbor."

After three years of planning, the mayor is thrilled to see the project move closer to reality.

"Feels like a Mardi Gras parade," said McDermott. "We have arrived now, and we are ready to go with this thing."

The city will award a contract in August. Once the pilings are in and dredging work is done, the final phase is the rest of the harbor. The entire project should be finished by December of 2012.

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