Building piers, bulkheads and bridges is a construction specialty that’s a good match for Mississippi’s coastal counties where there’s boating and fishing as recreation and business and roadways must cross bodies of water. Parnell Construction, based in Vancleave, stays busy with this niche construction.
The company recently completed the $270,000 Magnolia Street bird-watching pier in Pascagoula and has the Lowery Island pier that’s part of that project’s Phase One under way. The Magnolia Street project consisted of concrete pilings with treated decking and handrails and a roof on a small cutoff of the Pascagoula River. Dyke Parnell, president of the company and grandson of the company founder, says it took two and one-half months to complete.
Work on phase one of the city’s Lowery Island project began with the rehabilitation of a pier that burned a couple of years ago. Darcie Crew, Pascagoula’s Parks and Recreation director, says the fire was ruled accidental. Lowery Island, separating the East and West forks of the Pascagoula River, is the land motorists drive across on Interstate 10 between Gautier and Pascagoula.
“We started by tearing off all the burned timbers and spicing the pilings with short pieces to bring them up to our grade,” Parnell said. “It’s a $100,000 project and will be complete by Nov. 12.”
In addition to the lack of money for projects of this type, he says getting material on time is a big challenge. “Getting wood on time is a problem. Rain holds up lumber cutting and then it has to be milled and treated,” he said. “Rain has slowed us down a lot.”
Finding skilled workers is not a problem for this type of construction. “I don’t have to have someone trained. A lot of it is simple now,” Parnell said.
“It requires being able to use a chain saw and drive nails. I just need someone trained to run a crew.”
Replacing the burned pier is a small part – phase one – of the total Lowery Island project which is a $3.5 million-project using Mississippi Development Authority Katrina Recovery Block Grant Development funds. Crew says phase two will be done in parts A and B. “The first part will include getting environmental approval and doing the engineering,” she said. “Then there will be some demolition of the mismatched things, including the parking lot and lights, which are there.”
The work will involve bringing in fill material to prevent flooding, adding asphalt parking with curbs and gutters, a new sign, landscaping and dredging for a boat launch.
“We hop to go to bid about February 2014 for phase two B, which includes some additional areas for parking and a high-and-dry boat storage with fuel dispensers, and water and sewer work,” Crew said.
In addition to building piers for the city of Pascagoula, Parnell Construction is building a fishing pier in Long Beach for Harrison County, a boat ramp for the city of Long Beach and two county bridges. “We have a good bit of work,” Dyke Parnell said.
“We have ten employees all the time and hire more as we need them.”
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