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Biloxi Officials Yet to Talk to MDOT Over Possible U.S. 90 Changes Needed for Lighthouse Park
by: Keith Burton - GCN   7/1/07

Biloxi has big plans for the area around the Biloxi Lighthouse. The city announced in February that they plan to build a park around the Biloxi Lighthouse and part of those plans involve moving a section of the highway to allow for more greenspace near the lighthouse.

Meanwhile, the Mississippi Department of Transportation announced last month that they have plans to begin renovations to U.S. first in Biloxi starting in July. The work includes new curbing, resurfacing and drainage from Biloxi to Pass Christian. As the work on the highway is soon to get underway, you would think that officials from Biloxi and MDOT would have gotten together to coordinate their plans, but that hasn't been the case.

Both Biloxi and MDOT officials tell GCN that they have not yet spoken about the changes needed for U.S. 90 for the planned Lighthouse Park.

"The city has not yet met with MDOT about the idea to enlarge the size of the center median on U.S., 90 near the lighthouse which would entail moving the northern lanes several feet northward because the city has not yet acquired control of the property immediately north of the lighthouse. That is still in the works," said Vincent Creel, Biloxi's information manager.

MDOT's Wayne Brown told GCN in a recent interview that he is aware of Biloxi's Lighthouse Park plans, but he said his agency doesn't have any details.

"But I would be happy to meet with them to consider their plans," Brown told GCN.

The Lighthouse Park envisioned by the city includes buying land north of the park where two gas stations were located. The land is adjacent to property already owned by the city that was where the Danzler Housing and Biloxi Chamber were located prior to the hurricane. The only thing remaining on the land is a statue of the French explorer Pierre LeMoyne Sieur d'Iberville that somehow survived the hurricane.

The preliminary plans include widening the media to provide a better buffer for the lighthouse, this would mean moving a portion of the highway by about 12 feet.

Funding for the project is coming from a $2.5 million Coastal Impact Assistance Program grant. This grant is derived from federal oil leases in the Gulf. The city also plans to add another $8 million in federal hurricane recovery money designated for downtown revitalization work. The city says that the CIAP grant money will be used for purchasing the needed land.

Currently the location is unsightly with two destroyed gas stations, a destroyed fishing pier and beachside restroom that is only pilings. The city's land just to the northeast of the lighthouse was cleared of debris months ago and is an empty lot.

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