City seeks to end suit over bridge on Fairground

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 28, 2000

[12/28/00] Attorneys for the City of Vicksburg have asked for a summary judgment to end a suit demanding they take action regarding the Fairground Street bridge.

In the suit filed by Vicksburg residents Joe Strickland and James Hobson Jr., the Warren County Circuit Court is asked to compel the city to enforce an 1895 agreement with the railroad company that owns tracks under the bridge. Strickland and Hobson own adjacent parcels.

The 105-year-old iron bridge at the foot of Fairground Street was built by the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad when tracks were laid across the street. In an agreement between the city and the railroad at the time, the railroad company owning the tracks is responsible for maintaining the bridge over the rail yards.

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Although historic, the aged bridge has been closed to traffic for safety reasons since 1995, essentially making Fairground a dead-end street. While there are other routes to the industrial area west of the bridge, Strickland and Hobson say the city’s failure to enforce the agreement has made their property less valuable.

Kansas City Southern Railway now owns the tracks and the bridge and has been named co-defendants in the case.

In his motion, Deputy City Attorney Bobby Robinson, one of three staff lawyers for Vicksburg, maintains that a three-year statute of limitations for complaints about closing the bridge has expired.

Alternatively, the city says that it had a “discretionary duty” to close the bridge for public safety and that a writ of mandamus, a court order to force a public body into action, would not apply to discretionary actions.

The Fairground Street Bridge is listed in tour guides and on the National Register of Historic Places as possibly the oldest bridge in the state.

The case has been assigned to Circuit Court Judge Isadore Patrick, but no hearing date has been set.

Strickland and Hobson initially sued the city and the city, in turn, brought KCS into the case.