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Workers use backhoes to scoop up dredged sand brought in via a pipeline at right, to the gulf side of Dauphin Island, as work begins on berm reconstruction Wednesday.
AP photo by G.M. Andrews
Workers use backhoes to scoop up dredged sand brought in via a pipeline at right, to the gulf side of Dauphin Island, as work begins on berm reconstruction Wednesday.

Work begins on new sand wall for Dauphin Island's west end

DAUPHIN ISLAND (AP) — A contractor has started building a new berm to reduce flooding on Dauphin Island's fragile west end, four years after a tropical storm destroyed the island's first man-made protective sand wall.

Tons of wet sand have begun being pumped through two massive rubber pipes from the floor of the Mississippi Sound to the west end of the island. The berm project, which is expected to be finished in June, is to be larger than the previous one.

It's $3.6 million cost is to be paid mostly with federal funds.

The plan is for it to extend some 7,100 feet farther east than the 14,000-foot berm that was built in June 2000 and washed away 27 months later by Tropical Storm Isidore.

The new wall is to be built with some 500,000 cubic yards of sand harvested from Mississippi Sound by barges north of the island.

Business owners hope the project will help the island's economy.

"We've got other problems, but I think the berm will be a good thing," Phil Purpura of Island Realty told the Press-Register in a story Friday.

Island property values stayed relatively stable while sales dropped more than 30 percent after Katrina hit Aug. 29, 2005, destroying or heavily damaging scores of homes.

Purpura hopes the berm will make federally funded repairs possible to Bienville Boulevard, which was badly broken up during Katrina. Town officials said the Federal Highway Administration has agreed to repair the boulevard but postponed repairing the road until the berm is in place.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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