The City of Biloxi on Sept. 17 will begin a 180-day, $6.5-million project that will see the dredging and re-construction of slips in the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor, which has been closed to boaters since Hurricane Katrina.
The FEMA-funded work will be performed by L&A Contracting of Hattiesburg, the firm that originally constructed the harbor 35 years ago. Design and construction specifications were done by Wink Engineering of Biloxi.
As part of the work, the depth of the small craft harbor’s 141 slips will be dredged to 11 feet, and its two main east-west piers will have concrete-encased utility lines and topped with wooden decking.
The boat launch at the harbor will remain open as long as safely possible during the project.
“The contractor promises to work to keep this ramp open as long as it’s safe,” said Frankie Duggan, manager of the city’s harbors and marinas. “And when he does have to close it, he’s going to work to keep the closures to a minimum and with plenty of public notice.”
Three of Biloxi’s public docking facilities – Point Cadet Marina, the commercial docking facility adjacent to the small craft harbor, and the Lighthouse Commercial Docks on Back Bay – were operating in a makeshift fashion weeks after the storm.
“We weren’t able to provide electricity or water at the facilities, but at least it was a place for boats to tie up,” Duggan said. “Otherwise, some of these people would still be up the river – literally – which meant having no access to fuel and having to navigate several bridges and winding channels to make it to the open waters.”
Before Katrina, Biloxi offered more than 500 public slips, including 425 for recreational boaters and 91 for commercial vessels. Today, that number is 141 fewer, with the small craft harbor out of commission.
Work on rebuilding the small craft harbor’s fuel dock and bait shop, and refurbishment of the Port Division administrative offices will be included in separate projects.