Physical work begins to move MV Mississippi|[04/24/07]
Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 24, 2007
City Front docking expected in June
The physical process to bring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ retired flagship vessel to Levee Street as part of an interpretive center has begun with its official docking in the city scheduled for early June, the project manager said in a briefing Monday at the Port of Vicksburg.
Crews will today begin pumping remaining diesel fuel out of MV Mississippi IV, used by the Corps for high- and low-water inspection tours as well as work boat during revetment projects.
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The next step, expected in about 10 days, is to send the boat to dry dock in Morgan City, La., said James Morris of Procon Inc., the company hired in the $4.89 million project to berth the boat on dry land near City Front. At Morgan City, it will be placed in a cradle on a barge and floated back to Vicksburg, where it will be sand-blasted and painted, he said.
“It sounds pretty simple,” he said. “But, sometimes, you never know what will happen.”
The boat will then be winched onshore and positioned as the first element of the Lower Mississippi River Museum and Interpretive Site, which is slated for a grand opening in 2009, said Tommy Hengst, senior project manager for the Vicksburg District.
A contract to begin construction of the museum, the project’s second phase, is expected to be awarded in August. The museum will have exhibits such as interactive views of the Mississippi River and its tributaries. The third and final phase, set for the following August, will be the relocation of the century-old Fairground Street bridge, which will provide a walkway from the parking lot to the museum. It will also help tie in other components of the downtown redevelopment area, which include the river-themed children’s art park and fountain area and the historic murals. A transportation museum in the former Levee Street Depot and a Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary-sponsored playground are also in the works.
The vessel, since replaced by MV Mississippi V, is 65 feet high, 218 feet in length and weighs close to 2,000 tons. Before retirement in the early 1990s, it was owned by the Memphis District. The City of Vicksburg purchased it for $1 in 1995 with the purpose of having it for the museum. It has been moored in the Yazoo Diversion Canal since then. City officials turned over land to the Corps earlier this month to speed up the project. It was originally purchased by the city for $692,000 in order to secure the museum site. The vessel will be moved to the designated area, at Jackson Street between Washington and Levee streets. Hengst said the motor vessel itself will be an exhibit, but portions of the interior will also be on display, showcasing its state rooms, the pilot house, galley, engine room, dining area and meeting space. One exhibit will be the entire process of moving the MV Mississippi to dry land, Hengst said. Parts of the vessel will be handicapped-accessible.
The vessel was built in 1961 and served the Corps for 30 years.
“It was a great vessel in its time,” Hengst said.
The Corps’ river mission is to maintain navigation and limit flooding along the Mississippi and its major tributaries. Much of that work has been centered in Vicksburg, home to three Corps entities. A technique to limit bank erosion and protect levees is placement of concrete mattresses or revetments along the river bank. Fleets working from Vicksburg and other river cities still perform that task.