Gulfport Ward 6 Newsletter from Councilman Flowers – August 5, 2013

During my first term in office, I put much of my time and effort into getting the Dedeaux Road Widening Project rolling. With the effort and support of the City Council and Mayors Schloegel and Hewes’ administrations, it is moving forward very nicely now. You can find a brief summary of where we stand with property acquisitions for Phase I later in this update.

Bridge Replacement
This term I have turned to the Lorraine Road Bridge over Biloxi River Replacement Project as a major transportation focus to work on. This project has been underway for some time and the projects’ new path has been chosen and necessary land acquired. The Harrison County Board of Supervisors has led the way on this effort and provided the upfront money to get this project to where it is today. The progress lost momentum during discussions of dividing the remaining cost between the two cities. Recently, I began to coordinate meetings between Harrison County, Biloxi, Gulf Regional Planning, and Gulfport officials to discuss this project. A little more than a week ago, one of the meetings included a discussion between the County’s engineers for this project and both cities’ Chief Engineers. A result of that conversation was a recommendation to close the bridge “immediately.” The closure of the bridge was a coordinated effort between Biloxi and Gulfport based upon that recommendation.

All three governing authorities, through our engineers, have requested State Aid (the agency that oversees this bridge) provide a full assessment of the structural assessment of this bridge. The most recent assessment (7/16/2013) shows the rating of the bridge at a 51.6% and the report can be found here. There is a document attached below that was prepared by Gulfport’s Chief Engineer showing the bridge rating at 27.8%. That rating was based upon this report published in the Mississippi Business Journal. When I spoke to the State Aid engineer concerning this discrepancy, he said that while the MBJ report had some errors, he expected the official rating of the bridge found on their website would be revised down once a full assessment was made.

State Aid has contracted Volkert Engineering to assess the bridge. They began mobilizing their crew for this task this week, and it should take a couple of weeks for them to inspect the bridge and submit their findings.

The bridge replacement project design drawing is shown below. However, due to adopted road construction requirements each city has, the drawing may require some revision.

Lorraine Road Bridge Over Biloxi River

During the Tuesday, July 30 council budget meeting, City Engineer Kris Riemann presented the council with some possible funding sources for Gulfport’s share of the project. All of the listed projects are important to the City. So, I am looking at every project and funding opportunity very carefully. I will present my findings to the council and administration and seek their support to move this project forward.

Biloxi River Bridge Replacement Project Background & Possible Funding Sources

Based on numerous discussions with Biloxi, Harrison County, Gulfport, and other local and state agencies’ officials, I would summarize where we stand today as follows:

1. A full assessment of the structural integrity of the bridge will be known within a few weeks. Biloxi and Gulfport Chief Engineers will make a decision on whether to reopen the bridge based upon that report.
2. Harrison County Board of Supervisors has purchased the property and paid for the design engineering of the project. They have spent approximately 1/3 of the local match required for the project on engineering design and property acquisition.
3. Gulfport has $154,000 funding allocated for the project and will have to allocate additional funds.
4. Biloxi has stated they will allocate 1/3 of the required local match.
5. Exact cost sharing of the remaining $1.7 million of local match must be agreed upon by Biloxi, Gulfport, and Harrison County.
6. The estimated construction duration of this project is 1 year.

There is much work to move this project forward. However, I have found officials in every agency and governing authority who are committed to this project. I am certain that we’ll be able to work out a reasonable resolution.

Dedeaux Road Widening Project Update
Total properties needed to start Phase I construction (West end from Three Rivers Road to approximately DeDe Drive): 31
Council approved: 19
On August 6, 2013 agenda for council approval: 8
Offers extended: 16
Offers accepted: 1

Biloxi River and Fritz Creek Watershed Sewer Connections
Recently, Jason Chiniche, the lead engineer for Brown, Mitchell Biloxi River Estates Sewer Connection Project sent me the following update of the sewer connections project in the Biloxi River and Fritz Creek Watersheds funded with CIAP grant money. CIAP funds come from oil and natural gas leases in our state waters.

1. The contractor has installed 7 out of 8 grinder stations including electrical connections and 1.5” High Density Polyethylene tubing.
2. Approximately 900 LF of 8” gravity main and 3 manholes was installed along Gorman St.
3. We are still coordinating with the building department and the property owners for signed consumer contracts. To date, we have received 19 out of 35 and will continue trying to contact the other 16 owners.

If you know someone in these watersheds that has not connected to the sewer yet and wants to do so, please have them contact the City by calling 311 or, from outside the City, (228) 868-5700.

This project connects properties with septic systems in the watersheds to city sewer for free and helps to protect our waterways.