Traffic improvements well underway in Biloxi

The City of Biloxi in the next couple of weeks will award the fourth contract of a four-phase initiative that is seeing citywide repair and restoration of traffic signals, street lights, school crossings, asphalt, sidewalks, gutters and curbing.

The $2.77 million project, parts of which began Sept. 25, will involve 680 streets throughout the city and three of the four projects are expected to be completed by August. The city is being reimbursed by the Federal Highway Administration and FEMA.

“This project will be at full force from March through the summer,” Mayor A.J. Holloway said. “Because of the magnitude of the work, it’s one of those things where you won’t see the improvements all at once, but you’re seeing them at a quicker pace and in more places over the next few months.”

To date, about 30 percent of the vitally needed traffic signs have been replaced or restored, and10 percent of the damaged asphalt has been replaced.

“The biggest challenge with this work is dealing with the unknowns, the things that we could not have possibly known during the design phase,” according to Jason Elliott of the firm Neel Schaffer, which is managing the four contracts. “For example, we are anticipating reusing the underground conduit for the mast arm signals and the low mast lighting on U.S. 90.

“If this conduit is plugged with mud or debris from the storm surge, then we may have to drill new conduit under the existing roadway. Other than circumstances like that, I believe that all these projects will be straight-forward and relatively problem-free.”

Elliott said the pre-construction phases of the project were time-consuming, given the amount of work and necessary paperwork.

“There are 630 non-federal-aid streets with some type of repair, mostly signs, and about 50 federal-aid streets,” he said. “However, the federal-aid streets, which are usually longer and wider, such as Pass Road and Division Street, require an additional level of project approval, and if we don’t follow the procedures, the taxpayers of Biloxi are left with the bill, which is something the Mayor has cautioned us not to let happen.”

The city’s Public Works Department publishes a daily traffic update on the city web site. To see it now, click here.

The traffic initiative: Phase by phase

Here’s a breakdown on the four contracts in the city’s traffic improvement initiative, according to records from City Engineer Damon Torricelli and NeellSchaffer’s Jason Elliott:

Phase I — $1.6 million, SCI of Gulfport, and subcontractor PCS of Vancleave.

Work began Sept. 25 and involves repair or restoration of asphalt, sidewalks, curbing, street signs, lighting and flashing lights on 630 neighborhood streets.
About 30 percent of the sign and asphalt work has been completed, which will be followed by the sidewalk and curbing work. The flashing lights have been restored at Reynoir Street-Esters Boulevard and John Lee-Woolmarket roads, while the remainder of the street lighting work is awaiting the arrival of equipment.
Expected completion: July.

Phase II – $118,855, Lamey Rockco Electric of Biloxi.

Work began Nov. 11 and involves repair or restoration of traffic signals at Popp’s Ferry Road and Jam Lane; Switzer and Eisenhower drives; Irish Hill Drive and White Avenue; Howard Avenue and Caillavet Street; and Howard Avenue and Reynoir Street.

Work at Switzer and Eisenhower light is substantially complete and the signals are operating. Underground conduit and wiring have been completed at four other locations; awaiting arrival of control cabinets and poles.

Expected completion: April.

Phase III — $824,741, Toomer Electric of Baton Rouge, La.

Work begins Jan. 22 and involves repair or restoration of roadway lighting, traffic signals, flashing lights and school-crossing signs on 50 thoroughfares known as “federal-aid roads.” A large portion of the lighting to be repaired is on Highway 90 from Beauvoir Road to Rodenberg Avenue.

Expected completion: August.

Phase IV – $227,307, awarding of contract is pending

Work involves repair or restoration of asphalt, sidewalks and curbing on 50 thoroughfares known as non-federal aid roads.

Expected completion: 120 days from contractor’s notice to proceed from the city.