City moving forward with Popp’s Ferry extension

The city is sending letters to about three dozen property owners in the route of the extension of Popp’s Ferry Road to U.S. 90 letting them know that the process is beginning for the city to buy their property.

City Engineer Christy LeBatard said the letters will be mailed in the next couple of weeks and property acquisition is expected to continue for the next year.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation has reviewed the city’s plans for the extending of Popp’s Ferry to U.S. 90, and MDOT has authorized the city to move forward with acquiring property for the four-lane roadway that will cover eight-tenths of a mile.

Make no mistake, the project is still years away, but work is progressing.

“Some people will disagree with me on this,” says Biloxi Chief Administrative Officer Mike Leonard, “but the extension of Popp’s Ferry Road to U.S. 90 is the most important economic development project we’re working on right now.

“I realize that we have major work in east Biloxi right now and that we have almost a half a billion in public projects in the works, but the businesses in west Biloxi have heard about this Popp’s Ferry extension for years now, and they need to know we are working on it.”

Here’s the latest from engineers at Neel-Schaffer, the firm that is performing the design and pre-construction work on the project:

The city has talked for years about this extension. What’s the status? Is any work being done? How long of a stretch of roadway are we talking about? Four lanes? Median? A pedestrian tunnel for the Coast Coliseum?

Yes, the city has indeed spoken about this project for years, and, frankly, the work necessary for pre-construction – the public hearings and state and federal approvals – has been underway for years.

The plans have been through the initial review by MDOT and final design is underway.

Current work being completed includes preparation of the right-of-way and collection of soil samples for design of the proposed roadway.

The proposed roadway will be four lanes with a raised median and turning lanes. It will also include a 10-foot multi-use path on one side and a five-walk sidewalk on the opposite side.

Yes, there will be a tunnel. It’s a pedestrian tunnel and a separate vehicular tunnel at the Coliseum to connect the convention center to the overflow parking lot west of the proposed roadway.

How is this work being funded, how much will the extension cost and when can people drive on it?

This project – currently estimated at $9.6 million – is being funded through a Gulf Regional Planning Commission grant that will cover 80 percent of construction and ROW costs. The remaining 20 percent will be a match from the City of Biloxi.

The right-of-way for the project still needs to be acquired, which is anticipated to be completed in 2020. In addition, CSX Railroad will need to construct a new crossing for the proposed roadway, which could take up to two years. Both of these activities will need to be completed before construction of the roadway, which will take about one year.

What about the residents and business owners who live or work near the route? Who will be impacted by this? When will the city speak with them?

Public meetings were held during the environmental and route selection phases. Additional information will be provided to all interested parties before any construction begins. In addition, the city and local news will report any construction activities. This project is expected to have minimal impact on existing routes because the proposed roadway is on a new alignment.

Residents will begin to hear from the city later this year as the row-of-way process continues.

The route for the new roadway limits the impact to existing businesses as much as possible.
See the path of the Popp’s Ferry extension


News & notes: Meeting video and photos, Cable One, special meeting

Video: The gurus from the city’s Information Systems Division were successful in improving audio for the Facebook Live broadcasts of City Council meetings. To see the latest meeting, an hourlong session held Tuesday, click here

Photos: To see a gallery of photos from the City Council meeting on Tuesday, click here.

Cable One: Biloxi subscribers to Cable One can see a host of programming commemorating hurricanes Camille and Katrina now through Thursday on Cable Channel 69. By the way, Cable One is also working on a special filmed at the Biloxi Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

Budget: The Biloxi City Council will discuss the municipal budget for Fiscal Year 2019 during a special meeting on Friday at 3:30 p.m. To see the agenda, click here.