Howard Avenue shows glimpse of improvements

The city’s project to completely rebuild a six-block section of Howard Avenue in east Biloxi are providing a glimpse of the features that the city is trying to introduce on its citywide $355 million Restore Biloxi project.

Among the features in place or in the works on a temporarily opened block-long section of the roadway are attractive new brick-lined sidewalks and crosswalks, far fewer utility poles with most utilities underground, decorative light poles, new trees, and attractive streetscapes.

Under the street are new water and sewer lines and improved drainage lines.

The $2.9 million federally funded project, which covers a 3,000-foot area of Howard Avenue, is a complete rebuild of the roadway between Dukate and Holley streets. The roadway connects downtown Biloxi with the Point Cadet area of Biloxi, the oldest most storm-ravaged section of the city.

“Our goal here is to create an attractive streetscape and an inviting entrance to one of the city’s richest architectural areas,” said Holloway, noting that the roadway will also see the new $24 million library and civic center, where construction will begin this summer.

“The initial layer of asphalt has been laid on the western end of the Howard Avenue project, but our contractors still face several hurdles on the remaining part as they move eastward,” Holloway said. “Howard Avenue is one of the oldest streets in Biloxi, and contractors have discovered everything from trolley tracks, dormant water and sewer lines, and live lines that weren’t exactly where the plans said they would be.”

Dealing with the utility companies and forcing them to move their utilities underground has been a time-consuming chore as well, Holloway said.

“What we’ve done is try to remove all of the utility poles on the north side of the street and move those utilities underground,” the mayor said. “And on the south side, we’ve significantly reduced the number of poles.”

The project, which had an initial completion date of May 30, is expected to be completed about 60 days behind schedule, owing to delays caused by utility re-locations and inclement weather.

“They’ll continue opening up the street in sections,” Holloway said, “and we’re asking people to use caution when using the block on the western end that is temporarily open.”

Online photos: To see photographs taken today of the Howard Avenue work progress, click here.

News and notes

Contract awards: The city has awarded a $95,000 contract for the cleaning of drainage ditches not covered in by the initial Natural Reseroce Conservation Service, and a $1.65 million contract for water and sewer work in Woolmarket. To see background on the Woolmarket work, click here.

Coming up: Mayor A.J. Holloway on Tuesday will ask the City Council to approve contracts totaling more than $2.85 million for improvements on Brodie Road.

Municipal Court: A new Municpal Court page has been created on the city web site, offering contact information and explaining policies of the court. To visit the page, which is also accessible from the front page of the city site, click here.