Holloway sets timetable for major road projects

Biloxi Mayor A.J. Holloway, in his first State of the City address of his third term, announced Thursday that construction would begin on a new Bayview Avenue in April and work would begin on the next phase of Popp’s Ferry by the summer.

Speaking before a sold-out audience of almost 500 at the Isle of Capri Casino Resort, Holloway also said that of the more than 90 parcels of property needed for the Caillavet Street project, the city is down to a handful, and construction on that project should begin in the first quarter of next year.

The luncheon address, sponsored annually by the Biloxi Bay Chamber of Commerce, marked the ninth time that Holloway has delivered a State of the City address, but the first since beginning his third term in July.

“For our immediate future, there is no bigger issue facing this city than building roads,” Holloway said. “The difficult and time-consuming task of acquiring land is almost behind us, and we are at the point of beginning actual construction.”

His address focused on major issues that the city has been dealing with for several years: helping move traffic by building wider roads, updating Biloxi’s zoning and land-use ordinances, revitalizing neighborhoods in east Biloxi, and providing enhanced services for residents of Woolmarket, who became city residents in month/year.

“Some of you probably wanted to see this construction work start this afternoon,” Holloway said, referring to projects on Bayview, Caillavet and Popp’s Ferry. “I wanted to see it start yesterday. But we needed to do the right thing on this. We needed to be fair to property owners and fair to the taxpayers of Biloxi.”

The initiative to revitalize east Biloxi will be underway with outreach meetings over the next two months, and the nationally recognized Enterprise Foundation will begin implementing a three-year, $15 million city program that will work in tandem with the Biloxi Housing Authority’s $35 million Hope VI program to “create new promise and new hope for east Biloxi,” where, Holloway noted, the city has seen more than a billion dollars in commercial development since gaming was legalized in 1992.

At the outset of his address, Holloway praised the men and women of Keesler Air Force Base for their work since Sept. 11, and noted that the Biloxi police and fire departments have helped allay fear among Biloxi residents since the terrorist attacks.

He also noted that the city’s economy was not impacted as much as major cities who depend on air traffic. Sales tax revenue is off by 1 percent since Sept. 11, but gaming revenue is about 2.8 percent over last year’s figures.

Among other issues Holloway addressed:

  • Biloxi’s comprehensive update of zoning and land-use ordinances, a project that has been almost three years in the making, will shape the future of Biloxi.
  • Three softball fields, a concession stand and covered bleachers will be completed by the end of the year at Biloxi’s planned $10 million sports complex off Popp’s Ferry Road.
  • A master plan for the Popp’s Ferry causeway park will be completed within two months, and construction of bulkheads and nature trails work will begin on that project.
  • The city needs to continue efforts to provide enhanced city services in Woolmarket and will construct a fire station and other facilities on 20 acres of land the city purchased.