Katrina-Damaged Bridges May Become Part of Fishing Reef

Fri April 01, 2011 - Southeast Edition

BILOXI, Miss. (AP) Removing two Hurricane Katrina damaged fishing bridges in Biloxi has turned into a battle between economics and the environment.

The city accepted a $9 million bid to demolish the bridges, but the job does not include hauling the debris out to the Katrina Reef near Deer Island. A state senator and other agencies want to find a way to get that debris added to the reef.

The old Back Bay fishing bridge and the Point Cadet fishing bridge are longstanding signs of Katrina’s power and devastation.

Biloxi spokesman Vincent Creel told WLOX-TV that the city had asked contractors to bid on two options — remove the concrete and recycle it, or to move it south of Deer Island and put it on the Katrina Reef.

He said FEMA requires the city to accept the lowest bid, which came from W.C. Fore to grind the concrete debris and sell it.

Sen. Tommy Gollott, R-Biloxi, and others want city leaders to consider a higher bid that would pay to move the debris to the Katrina Reef.

In a letter, Gollott said adding the debris to the reef would ensure future generations will have outstanding fishing opportunities in Biloxi. It also will provide additional hurricane protection for Deer Island.

The difference between taking the debris to Deer Island and allowing the contractor to grind it is more than $271,000.

Creel said the city is waiting to hear whether the state will provide the extra money to move the debris to the reef.

Once the debris is gone, Creel said the city will rebuild a fishing bridge at Point Cadet. The new fishing pier will be close to 4,700 ft. long, with two vehicle lanes, lights and be ADA accessible.

He said construction should begin by the end of the year.