Plan in works to bore under burial site

Federal environmental and historic preservation authorities, engineers and contractors met Wednesday at the site of human bones discovered a year and a half ago just south of the Biloxi City Cemetery and decided that the large water line being installed north of U.S. 90 must be installed below the known grave site and 10 other potential sites.

City contractors installing the new 16-inch water line stopped work adjacent to the centuries-old cemetery when the previously unknown grave site was encountered. The water line had been installed from Hopkins Boulevard to the cemetery when the remains were discovered in April 2018. Since then, the city and its contractor have awaited guidance from FEMA, which is funding the $25 million project to install new water, sewer and drainage lines on eight miles of roads from Hopkins Boulevard to Seashore Methodist.

The plan is to install the line 12 feet below ground, boring a corridor that would be four times the depth of the line in other places along U.S. 90.

However, even with the decision, work may not resume for as much as two months, as contractor Hemphill Construction works towards its March 2020 deadline for all work south of the railway to be completed.

“FEMA is going to have their archaeologists or our consultant archaeologists meticulously sift the material in the grave site and the bones of the known discovery to begin the process of removing and reinterring the bones from the burial site,” said Walt Rode, who is overseeing the city’s $355 million infrastructure work. “However, before FEMA begins, there is additional consultation on the means and methods for the re-interment, so this process to sift and uncover all the remains may not begin for another 30 to 60 days.”

The city is also developing a scope of work for the deeper work, which is based on findings of ground-penetrating radar that revealed 10 other “anomalies” in areas south of the cemetery and along U.S. 90. Contractors may have to install the new line 12 feet below ground, four times its typical three feet depth.

Said Rode: “Once this revised scope of work is created in consultation with our design engineers, the contractor will give us a cost proposal to do the work, which will then be forward to MEMA and FEMA to review and agree to both the work and reimbursing the city for the additional costs.

“It is unknown if the 10 anomalies are in fact gravesites. The anomalies have, in general, the same depth, shape, and east-west orientation as the discovered burial site so that raises the concerns of all parties that it may be gravesites.”
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News and notes: Halloween safety tips, First Friday, B-Alert

Halloween safety tips: When out trick-or-treating tonight, the city offers tips for you to be aware of and share with others. To see the tips, click here here.

First Friday: Biloxi Main Street and downtown businesses will host First Friday on Friday from 5 to 8 p.m. along Rue Magnolia and Water Street. The event is free to attend and includes entertainment and giveaways. For more information, contact Biloxi Main Street at 228-435-6339.

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