Acrylic panels make their first appearance at Mississippi Aquarium

March 17, 2019

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Since its inception and original groundbreaking, construction work at the Mississippi Aquarium has been steadily moving past checkpoints and reaching goals.

Sunday, another goal was met as the first parts of the acrylic panels were moved to the site. The first piece moved on Sunday morning was about 60,000 pounds and the overall heaviest piece weighs in at about 102,000 pounds and measures 30 by 26 feet.

A 500-ton crane will be used to install the biggest piece. In total, about 40 tons of acrylic will be loaded, hauled and installed at the aquarium.

Traffic had to be closed off in a small part of U.S. Highway 90 in order to move the panels from the port to the construction area. Due to the various sizes of some of the other panels, not every piece will follow the same route as Sunday. This was one of the biggest pieces, so BH Specialized Hauling needed a wider street to move it on.

Some of the smaller pieces may have to be brought in through Highway 49 and some of the side streets, but the company hauling the panels said it is working with the city and businesses in the area to leave the parking spaces on the streets open for the trucks to be able to have enough clearance to turn.

These acrylic panels are for the river otter and dolphin exhibits, 360-degree tunnel and the giant window that looks into the main ocean habitat.

The panels have been sitting at the Port of Gulfport since August of 2018, while builders worked on the exhibits.

Eight more pieces will be moved from the port to the aquarium site through March 28, according to the aquarium’s vice president.

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