Projects will tie up much of city, county

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 15, 2002

Dirt Works Inc. employees, from left, Anthony Thornton and John Sanderson work to install a retaining wall north of the Vicksburg Convention Center at the corner of South and Pearl streets Friday. Scott Hoofman of Dirt Works Inc. said the wall is part of a contract with Lampkin Construction to widen Pearl Street west of the convention center. The wall will help provide space for extra parking at the center. (The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[04/15/02This summer, Vicksburg will be a “big mess,” according to officials, as about 20 construction projects are carried out around town and in the county.

James “Bubba” Rainer of the city’s public works department said the summer schedule is the heaviest in his 16 years as department head.

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“Normally, we do two or three major projects in a year,” Rainer said.

In 2001, the city’s public works department oversaw completion of a sewer project in the South Ward, repaving on Washington Street, Halls Ferry Road and Sherman Avenue and the rebuilding of the intersection at Clay and Mission 66. Rainer said that doesn’t compare with what will be starting in the next few months.

Major projects this summer include more sewer projects, repaving four roads including putting bricks in the downtown section of Washington Street, sidewalk and landscaping improvements on Washington Street, Clay Street and all of downtown and the beginning phases of another intersection redesign on Clay Street.

The city plans to spend about $8.2 million and the county plans to spend about $4.5 million in the next six months or so.

The city’s projects are being funded out with a $17.5 million bond issue.

“We can keep our house in a mess for another four years or we can clean it all at one time,” Rainer said.

One problem that city officials will face as these projects begin, is how to keep the work from becoming too much of an inconvenience to residents and tourists. Mayor Laurence Leyens said city officials are working with engineers and contractors to time the projects to avoid problems.

“We’re doing the stuff necessary to minimize the effect,” Leyens said.

To reduce the impact on travelers, work is planned around major events such as Riverfest this weekend and the start of holiday shopping in November. Also, some work, such as pouring concrete for sidewalks along Washington Street, will be done at night, Leyens said.

“Once we get started, these projects will be completed faster than it took to do the paper work,” South Ward Alderman Sid Beauman said.

Richard George, president of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, said this year’s workload is about average, although the county is taking on more building projects than usual.

Warren County has several road projects planned for this summer and plans are to complete renovations on three county-owned buildings. Supervisors have been following a pattern for several years of spending about $1 million of their casino tax revenue directly on paving projects.

Those projects will go out for bids in the next two weeks, George said. The county will also be repaving portions of four roads under a state-aid program that will fund another $1 million in work.

Building projects the county plans for this summer include renovations at the Old Court House Museum and completing the roof of the Warren County Jail.

County officials also plan to move the Warren County Justice Court to a building at 921 Farmer St., purchased last year for $142,500. The new building will provide more space, but also require some renovations before the move.

“As we can see right now, in the general conditions of our buildings, this jail roof job is the last job of this magnitude we will have to undertake,” George said.

Those building projects are being funded in part by grants from the state, and gaming revenue will be used for the road projects. In 2001, gaming revenue was used to repave eight county roads, George said.