Mississippi River reaches crest

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Mark Daniels backs into the Yazoo Canal at City Front to go fishing on the Mississippi River Tuesday.(Meredith Spencer The Vicksburg Post)

[6/16/04]The Mississippi River crested Tuesday at Vicksburg and started a slow fall, significant to area farmers and the Warren County Board of Supervisors.

Supervisors voted Tuesday to authorize repairs to the Kings Point ferry barge as an emergency and to pay for a private ferry to provide access until work is completed. The repairs are expected to cost about $65,000 and the ferry providing access for now is costing taxpayers $1,200 per day.

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The crest of the Mississippi River at 36.9 feet relates to the fact that access to Kings Point becomes moot at 36.5 feet. At that reading, the Mississippi encroaches on the farming area and it doesn’t matter whether the ferry is in service or not since landowners can’t do anything.

But the river, down a tenth today, is expected to drop by 3.4 feet before Sunday and Warren County is under a court order to provide access to Kings Point. That means a subsitute ferry will be needed before the barge repairs can be completed.

The emergency declaration was proper, said District 1 Supervisor David McDonald, because, “The quicker we can get this done the faster we can get the barge back in the water and save us that $1,200 per day.”

Earlier forecasts had been for a crest up to 3 feet higher on the Mississippi here, relieving the county of some expense but devastating crops already planted in the Lower Mississippi Delta.

The county took the ferry out of service last week for a required inspection of the barge by the U.S. Coast Guard. As a result, the board told Big River Shipbuilders, located on the E.W. Haining Industrial Center, to begin work to replace a 33-foot-by-20 foot section of the bottom and make other repairs. The work is expected to take from 15 to 20 working days.

The barge and push boat are to be replaced in 2005. Last month, supervisors awarded a $623,000 contract to a Louisiana firm to build replacements.

Summer or “June rises” on the lower Mississippi are not uncommon, but late spring rains in the upper basin brought about the current high-water conditions.