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State Port to let bids for major expansion project

Exports_rgbGULFPORT — The Port Authority Board will advertise for bids on two large contracts for building tenant facilities and support services on the west pier at the state port in Gulfport.

All the dirt moving and site preparation for the port’s expansion will soon give way to $100 million in construction.

“We’ve been waiting for this for a long time. We are no longer in the planning stage, but are moving into the implementation stage,” said Port Director Jonathan Daniels.

The bulk of that money will be for two bids to build the facilities and infrastructure. They are expected to help the port meet federal requirements to hire local employees.

“Both of these really have the most opportunity for a lot of subcontractors and local firms to do a large portion of this work,” said Port Restoration Director Joe Conn.

Daniels said that total amount of construction expected this year is closer to $250 million including work at the DuPont plant in DeLisle and at Island View Casino’s renovated tower.

The port is spending $600 million in federal Hurricane Katrina relief dollars. In exchange for funding, the project is supposed to create 1,200 permanent, full-time jobs.

Work is scheduled to be finished in 2017.

“If you go out and look you see a lot of freshly leveled, graded dirt but hopefully by the end of the year they’ll have over $100 million of construction coming out of the ground,” said commission president John Rester. “I think that is truly significant and something we’ve worked hard to get to.”

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