Work getting underway at Popp’s Ferry Causeway Park

Preliminary site work and the delivery of materials and equipment has begun on the Popp’s Ferry causeway, and over the next 12 months visitors to the area and motorists on the Popp’s Ferry bridge will see a 30-year-old idea becoming a reality: Popp’s Ferry Causeway Park.

 The project will include a bait shop and kayak launches, an open-air interpretive center, and nature trails featuring kiosks that explain native plants.

 “This is an outstanding project that drives home the importance and beauty of our waterfront,” Mayor Andrew “FoFo” Gilich said. “We owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to Gov. Phil Bryant and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality for recognizing the significance of this project and steering BP money our way.”

For Biloxi, it’s a project that has been more than three decades in the making. It was in 1986, with the drafting of the Biloxi Waterfront Master Plan, that the city unveiled concepts to create walking trails and shoreline fishing spots for the site, a narrow sliver of land west of the Popp’s Ferry Bridge. The city purchased a small portion of the land at that time, and, in 2001, Biloxi spent $600,000 to purchase the entire 10-acre site and conducted more public hearings to gather more ideas to create a more inviting public recreation area. A $5.9 million master plan was created as a result.

In additional to upgrading existing boat ramps, plans called for constructing a waterfront boardwalk, a bait shop, and an open-air pavilion, where exhibits would describe the native plants and wildlife found in the Popp’s Ferry marsh. The work would be on the west side of the existing Popp’s Ferry bridge, while a proposed new Popp’s Ferry highrise would be on the east side of the existing bridge.

The city constructed a waterfront boardwalk, lighting and an upgraded boat ramp, but work stopped short of the final phases for a lack of funding.

That all changed when Biloxi answered a call from the state seeking shovel-ready projects that could be funded with BP money. Months ago, Gilich asked the City Council to hire Seymour Engineering to transform artist’s renderings into construction documents, and last week, work began at the site.

 “Initially, you’ll see the clearing of the sites for the bait shop, the interpretive center and the nature trails,” said Charlie Dellenger of Seymour Engineering, who briefed the City Council on the project Tuesday. “Workers from DCD Construction, the contractor on the job, also will be doing some things that you can’t see, such as the water, sewer and electricity, which will be underground.”

 Dellenger said the project is scheduled to be completed in April 2018.

“You’ll see plenty of activity at the site as time goes by,” Dellenger said. “They’ll be driving piles for the marsh overlook, and then begin getting the boardwalks formed up. It’s going to really begin attracting attention when it goes vertical, once the piles are driven for the bait shop and the interpretive center.”

Milling of the roads and installing new pavement south of the boat ramp and additional fishing piers will be the last items to be done, Dellenger said.

“Things are going to be hopping at the site,” Dellenger added, “because the contractor knows this project is expected to be completed a year from now.”
See the original idea from 1986
See the expanded plan from 2000
See the current construction documents


News and notes

Lighten Up Biloxi sign ups:  The free eight-week weight loss and health challenge, “Lighten Up Biloxi,” is underway now with an initial weigh in at the Salvation Army Kroc Center beginning at 5 p.m. today.  To participate in the challenge, you must sign up during one of the four initial weigh ins. See the flyer

Fish fry for a good cause:  Don’t forget, if you can’t make it to the 2017 Law Enforcement Torch Run Fish Fry on Friday at the Lopez-Quave Public Safety Center, you can have orders of two or more orders delivered. To place your order, email or call 228-435-6112. See the flyer

Summer Playground registration: Registration for the Summer Playground and Enrichment program, a.k.a. summer camp, begins Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Woolmarket Elementary School for the Woolmarket area. See the flyer