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Army Corps of Engineers to Begin New Bay St. Louis Seawall Soon

Fri October 01, 2010 - Southeast Edition

BAY ST. LOUIS, Miss. (AP) The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is going ahead with plans to build a new seawall in Bay St. Louis after a federal agency rejected a contractor’s protest over the handling of bids for the project.

Roger Caplinger, president of Bay St. Louis-based Innovative Builders Inc., protested the bid award last January. He said his company entered a low bid of $16.25 million with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build the 6,500-ft. (1,981m) long seawall.

The Corps awarded the contract to Hemphill-Key LLC, a Florence, Miss.-based company that bid about $17.1 million.

The Corps said the Government Accountability Office upheld its decision.

Caplinger told the Sea Coast Echo that the GAO’s decision in favor of Hemphill was “just business as usual for the federal government.”

Caplinger said his company was well qualified for the seawall job, but the government took the position that his past construction projects were on too small a scale. The result, he said, was a loss of local employment.

The seawall was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, leaving downtown Bay St. Louis more exposed to storms.

“It will be nice to have that extra area there as a barrier between the water and the street,” said business owner Cindy Fisher.

Corps spokesman Pat Robbins told WLOX-TV that a modern seawall will be built.

“The road has been redone so it will be a whole different world down there. I believe we’re putting a little small beach out in front of it to help protect the seawall as well.

“It’s been redesigned based on occurrences that happened during Katrina. Obviously we’re using more modern things than were done years and years ago,” Robbins said.

“I think this is long overdue,” Bay St. Louis Mayor Les Fillingame said. “We’ve been basically waiting on pins and needles for that project to get off the ground.”

Once built, the wall will follow the grade of Beach Boulevard and stretch from U.S. Highway 90 to the south along the beach.

Construction time is estimated at 18 months.