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County Works To Keep Sand Off Highway

By Evelina Burnett | Published 13 Jun 2013 07:42pm | comments
A Harrison County sand beach worker uses a front-end loader to bring down the level of the sand. Photo by Evelina Burnett

Harrison County’s 26 miles of sand beach are fun to play on for tourists and residents – but not so fun for drivers when strong winds blow the sand onto the adjacent highway. Officials think they’ve come up with a way to keep that sand where it belongs – on the beach.

Driving on sand is a hazard and it can be bad for your car. Mississippi Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King says it’s also expensive, costing the department $1.5 million annually. 

But the Harrison County Sand Beach department is making changes to the beach that seem to be helping keep sand off the highway. One of the biggest changes they’ve made is to lower the level of the sand about five feet. Sand beach director Chuck Loftis says this makes more of the seawall visible, so it can catch sand before it gets on the highway. It's been working great so far, he says. They've also put up fencing, but lowering the level of the sand has made the biggest difference. 

Loftis says sand dunes are also effective but tend to wash out after storms. The sand can’t be lowered too far because it could affect the integrity of the seawall and then the highway. It’s also not a fast process – it takes about 30 days to lower one mile of beach

Loftis says the whole 26 miles should be lowered in about three months. He says visitors to the beach shouldn’t be able to tell a difference. But the highway department will – he thinks it could cut highway sand removal costs in half. 

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A Harrison County sand beach worker uses a front-end loader to bring down the level of the sand. Photo by Evelina Burnett


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