Howard Avenue work, despite surprises, on schedule

Engineers and contractors working on the nearly $2 million reconstruction of the downtown section of Howard Avenue report that work is on schedule for its October completion, but the project has not been without its surprises.

Most of the work over the past four months has been below-ground construction, such as storm drains and water mains, says Andy Phelan of Pickering Firm engineering, but with that work complete, “it’s beginning to look like a real roadway project, with the stone road base being installed, along with the curb and gutter.”

The downtown work, not unlike other road projects now underway in Biloxi, has had its share of surprises. Workers were aware of an existing 12-inch water main they needed to remove, but they also unearthed an additional 12-inch water main that was abandoned in place, along with an abandoned six-inch water main next to it.

And then there were the underground remnants of the canopies that had been installed when the area was known as the Vieux Marche.

Said Phelan: “Not only were the footers left and conflicting, but they had drainage lines on both sides that were not removed when the canopy was.  All told there was about three times as much buried pipe as was planned for and a lot more concrete that had to come out of the ground than anticipated.

This week, contractors with Gulf Breeze will continue installing the road base, curbs and gutters, and may install some concrete sidewalks in the next few weeks.

“After completion of the sidewalk,” Phelan said, “the road will be ready for its surface, which will be clay pavers that will closely resemble the style and color of the original road. At the same time, Gulf Breeze moves its crews over to start work at the Martin Luther King intersection. Gulf Breeze has been very diligent in moving the construction forward and pushing through myriad obstacles, while also being deliberate in removing any buried objects that could jeopardize the success of the project.”

The work between Lameuse and Reynoir streets, as well as the construction of a new intersection at MLK and Howard, remain on schedule for an October completion, but work on Howard between Lameuse and Main streets may take longer, Phelan said.

Added the engineer, who looked at old pictures of downtown Biloxi for inspiration: “This has been an exciting project. Meticulous design was necessary to closely mimic the original brick roadway with two-way traffic and parking on both sides. It’s a unique opportunity to capture the look and feel that Howard Avenue enjoyed in its heyday.”
See a 47-second video update of the work


Excel By 5 to begin orientation sessions

A new school year has arrived, and Excel by 5 also is ready to begin its year for pre-schoolers.

Before preschoolers can attend the many Biloxi Excel By 5 programs, parents and caregivers are required to attend one of the upcoming orientations, which begin this week.

Biloxi Excel By 5 is an early learning community-based program designed to improve a child’s overall well-being by age five.

Orientations will take place each month from August through April at various times at the Biloxi Family Resource Center, 140 St. John Ave. Sessions begin this week, on Wednesday at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m., and Thursday at 9:30 and 10:45 a.m.

Says Suan Hunt, manager of Biloxi Excel by 5: “These orientations are important for participants so that they receive an explanation of the programs, policies, and benefits provided for parents, grandparents and children.”
See the complete orientation listing
Visit the Biloxi Excel By 5 website


News & notes: Youth registrations, seafood hall of fame

Cheer and football registration: The Biloxi Parks & Recreation Department will hold a second registration session for its cheerleading and football leagues on Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon at the Donal M. Snyder Sr. Community Center. Registration will be for flag and tackle football and cheerleading. To see the flyer, click here.

Heritage Hall of Fame nominations: Know someone who has shown dedication to honoring the tradition of the maritime and seafood industry on the Mississippi Gulf Coast? Well, nominate them for the Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum 2018 Heritage Hall of Fame class. For more information, visit the museum’s website by clicking here