Infrastructure is a constant challenge for Gulfport as sinkholes emerge

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GULFPORT, miss. (WLOX) – Infrastructure will be a hot topic in Washington in the coming weeks.

As politicians debate this $ 1 trillion proposal, southern Mississippians say it is easy to see where to spend that money here at home.

There is a spot in the middle of 19th Street that the street has been closed for several months.

“Sinkholes are popping up everywhere,” said Gulfport’s Michael Drongowski.

It started with a hole at the intersection of 19th Street and 19th Avenue, but has now grown to at least four.

“It’s gotten worse and worse,” said Drongowski. “And a few months ago they just closed the street and haven’t touched it since.”

Wayne Miller, public works director at Gulfport, said a collapsing metal drainpipe is causing the sinkholes. He said it wasn’t an unusual problem. Miller said much of the city’s infrastructure south of the railroad tracks was repaired with FEMA funds after Hurricane Katrina, but not north of the tracks and east of 33rd Avenue.

Miller said he was prioritizing repairs because of the danger and inconvenience to citizens. Up until this weekend, the crumbling infrastructure for Drongowski was just an inconvenience. Now it’s affecting his home.

“Because a sinkhole is open here in the alley,” said Drongowski. “And considering that I can’t drain the back pressure in my system, I can’t flush my toilets. Broke my pipe when I tried to do it on Sunday.

A city crew came out on Sunday but they said they couldn’t help him, and the same on Monday. Drongowski said he made many phone calls.

“So now I’m stuck in my house with pent-up sewage until … she said the 21st.

However, on Tuesday afternoon, Drongowski said a public works overseer came out and said work on the sewer would begin on Wednesday. The collapsing road, however, has to wait.

Miller admitted the city had its share of infrastructure problems.

“We’re starting to see the effects of an aging system,” he said. “Old metal pipes are collapsing. We’ll fix them as soon as they appear. “

Miller added that the department is installing new concrete pipes ASAP, but is limited by staff and money.

Miller said his department is also grappling with staffing issues that have affected his ability to respond quickly. Currently the city has one crew that does patches and another that does major repairs.

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