Yazoo changes may come at same time

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 23, 2001

A truck and boat cross the U.S. 61 bridge over the Yazoo River in north Warren County Tuesday. State and local officials are negotiating to replace the bridge and build a boat ramp nearby. (The Vicksburg Post/CHAD APPLEBAUM)

[05/23/01] Boaters could have access to the Yazoo River at Redwood, but they may be waiting a while.

Supervisors have decided to approach the idea in conjunction with replacement of the U.S. 61 North bridge over the river.

Walter Lyons, engineer for the Mississippi Department of Transportation’s District 3, said that project should be completed by October 2003.

Lyons said design of a new bridge is 92 percent complete and right-of-ways should be owned by October. The budget for the new bridge is $9.5 million and it will be funded by 80 percent federal funds and the rest, state funds.

The existing two-lane bridge, one of the most scenic in America, was built with a clearance above the roadbed that continually causes problems for tall trucks and those carrying equipment to and from the lower Mississippi Delta.

The Warren County Board of Supervisors and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks are planning to meet with representatives of MDOT in mid-June to discuss the possibility of adding a public boat ramp area to the bridge project.

“We are trying to coordinate with MDOT, so they can design the bridge with a boat ramp in mind,” said Bubba Hubbard, fishing coordinator for the MDWF&P.

Hubbard said the bridge is in the design phase right now, so it would be possible to include the boat ramp when work begins if the MDWF&P and the Board of Supervisors get involved early enough.

The ramp would be funded through federal aid and the Sport Fishing Recreation Act, which uses money made from taxes on motor boat fuel to fund public water and fishing recreation. The fund would likely require a 75-25 percent match, Hubbard said, and the county would be counted upon to help meet the 25 percent requirement. He said no dollar amount will be known until after they meet with MDOT and the design of the ramp is known.

Warren County Board of Supervisors president Richard George said a public boat ramp in the area would be desirable for the county.

“It’s in the planning stages right now,” George said. “We’re looking to see if we could be involved in the operation and have some degree of involvement in establishing and maintaining a public boat ramp.”

Currently, residents can access the Yazoo River only through the boat launch at the City Front or at Yazoo City.

The petition, signed by 956 county residents, asked supervisors to construct and maintain a public boat ramp and boating launch on the Yazoo River, on an area of land near Redwood, 1/4 of a mile of U.S. 61 North at the dead end of Old Twin Lake Road.

The board accepted the petition, but no decisions have been made regarding actions on it. Supervisors suggested Monday that a boat ramp in conjunction with the new U.S. 61 North bridge may cure the impending petition, but Redwood resident Mitchell Martin, who led the petition, said he felt they were being put off.

“They were ignoring the will of the taxpayers as they normally do,” Martin said. “When it (the petition) came from regular people, we weren’t expecting it to be well-received.”

He said a boat ramp in the area the petition suggested would also help MDOT have access to the area when they begin building the new bridge and that the proposed boat ramp would come from state funds. He also said he doubted the new bridge would actually be completed by October 2003.

“The public was hoping it (the boat ramp) would be in by next year,” Martin said. “We are really discouraged and disappointed.”