90 percent of debris removed at harbors;
dredging, construction underway shortly

More than 90 percent of the submerged debris has been removed from Biloxi’s waterfront harbors and marina, and construction on a new Biloxi Small Craft Harbor could begin by the end of August and could be completed in as early as nine months.

The debris removal efforts were first necessary before contractors could begin dredging silt that Hurricane Katrina left in the more than 512 boat slips maintained by the city.

In all, the city expects to make more than $26 million in repairs and improvements to its harbors, marina, piers and boat ramps located around the 16-square mile Biloxi peninsula.

“That’s just the initial projection on the cost of these repairs and improvements,” Port Manager Frankie Duggan said. “With supply and demand issues that we’re seeing in construction locally, the bids on individual projects could drive these projects even higher, but that’s something we’re going to be working out with FEMA once bids begin coming in.”

Duggan said city and federal authorities would have an initial idea of cost on Aug. 1, when bids are due for the dredging and construction at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, where a couple hundred vessels were accommodated prior to Katrina but has been virtually unusable since Aug. 29, 2005. The city offered more than 500 slips before the storm – about 425 for recreational craft and about 85 for commercial vessels.

“We had a pre-bid conference on the small craft harbor this week, and we had at least three electrical contractors and four general marine contractors, so there’s a lot of interest,” Duggan said. “If FEMA approved, we hope to be able to select a contractor by mid-August so they’ll be able to begin dredging, demolition and actual construction at the small craft harbor.

“My goal is to have a fully operational harbor in April or May, but we’ll have to see if it can be done in that 180 days.”

The city and FEMA’s initial estimates are $4 million for the small craft harbor work, which includes dredging to 11 feet throughout the facility.

Point Cadet Marina: Intial construction underway

Construction is underway on a new bulkhead between E and H piers, which is part of an Isle of Capri-funded project that will see two new piers and a dozen new slips to accommodate as many as a dozen 40- to 60-foot vessels.

“With the Isle of Capri expansion, we lost five slips, but their work on building two new piers will add 12 slips, giving us seven more than we had before the storm,” Duggan said. “And they’re doing the dredging and construction right now.”

Overall design work for repairs and improvements for Point Cadet Marina are expected to be completed and approved by FEMA in October, Duggan said. “You have a few factors to consider here,” he added. “First, there’s the FEMA approval, which is necessary to obtain at several points on any project, and the Point Cadet Marina work all has to be coordinated with the construction on the Isle’s expansion. But the good news is the initial dredging and construction of the two new piers is underway right now.”

Other waterfront work in the offing

Design work is underway on plans to rebuild storm-destroyed piers near the Biloxi Lighthouse and Coast Coliseum. The plan, pending FEMA approval, is to construct piers that would use concrete pilings to diminish the risk of damage from future storms. The project is expected to be ready to advertise for bids in several weeks.

Material used for offshore fishing reef

Portions of the debris being removed from Point Cadet Marina are being used in an offshore reef instead of being crushed and placed in a landfill.

Debris coordinator Jonathan Kiser, who is overseeing the 45-day debris removal contract at three of the city’s waterfront facilities, said Young’s General Contracting was able to modify an existing Department of Marine Resources permit to include debris from city harbors in an offshore reef. The company removed 16 damaged concrete panels from a pier at Point Cadet.

Young’s General Contracting also helped deliver concrete to the offshore reef, which was coordinated by the DMR.

Further dredging will identify more debris and be the next step before repairs to the harbors and piers can begin.

DMR overseeing Back Bay debris cleanup

The Department of Marine Resources is working on the next phase of the marine debris removal with two contractors, Kiser said.

Childress Marine, which is staging under the I-110 highrise at D’Iberville, is working on a 120-day contract to clean up the Back Bay, and CDP Inc., which is basing its operations at the Popp’s Ferry causeway, is working to clean up the canals and bayous that feed into the Back Bay.

The Coast Guard is providing assistance to DMR through administering the contract oversight of the cleanup of the marine debris contracts.

Collection of marina, harbor photos online

You can see more than a hundred photos of the debris removal efforts by clicking here.

You can see photographs of Point Cadet Marina, taken the day before Hurricane Katrina, in the city’s online Photo Gallery. To see, click here.

To see a November 2006 aerial of Point Cadet Marina, click here.

To see a November 2006 aerial of the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor and adjoining Commercial Harbor, click here.