Progress in bloom where Katrina destroyed

When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Coast more than three years ago, it destroyed the heart of downtown Long Beach, demolishing city buildings and businesses and leaving Jeff Davis Avenue in ruins.

Since then, a few businesses have returned and traffic along one of the city's main thoroughfares has picked up.

But within two months, a project to revamp Jeff Davis will begin - one that city officials hope will lure more businesses to downtown.

At Tuesday's meeting, the Board of Aldermen is set to award bids for the Jeff Davis work, which includes replacing water and sewer lines, as well as storm drains. The street will get new curbs and sidewalks with brick paving at intersections.

Utilities will be placed underground, Mayor Billy Skellie said, including power, phone and cable lines. Decorative street lights also will be installed.

The city will add sidewalks one block east and west of Jeff Davis along Second, Third and Fourth streets.

"I'm excited because we're finally seeing something happening," Skellie said.

The $6 million project will be paid for by FEMA and Community Development Block Grant funds. It will take about a year to complete the work.

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