Bridge panel delays repairs|[07/10/08]

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Vicksburg Bridge Commission Wednesday cut its potential operating loss by more than half for the upcoming fiscal year by delaying planned repairs on the structure’s east bank.

Work to the bulkheads on the Mississippi side estimated at $808,750 will be put off to a later date, superintendent Herman Smith said.

The $1.95 million spending plan includes projected hikes for fuel costs for commission equipment and vehicles and higher property taxes paid to Madison Parish due to rate increases.

Email newsletter signup

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletters

Check which newsletters you would like to receive
  • Vicksburg News: Sent daily at 5 am
  • Vicksburg Sports: Sent daily at 10 am
  • Vicksburg Living: Sent on 15th of each month

“We’ve tried to do without the excess trips,” Smith said. “We’ve actually used less gallons.”

Net income for the county to maintain the bridge will total $1.473 million, most of which comes from $1.2 million in tolls from Kansas City Southern Railway. Rail traffic increased by more than 1,200 cars in June, with the railroad reporting 26,040 crossing the span during the month. No money has arrived from the railroad for April and May. For the fiscal year, $925,284.75 has been collected from KCS. Warren County supervisors and commissioners met in May to discuss the status of talks with KCS for higher toll payments, with both terming the talks exploratory.

Projects that will go on as scheduled include replacing bearings and reposition wind-shear bearings on Pier 2, the first large support pier from the Mississippi bank. Legal and engineering reviews have been approved on a $627,670 offer from Shreveport-based Shiloh Construction to perform the job, commissioners said.

Soil slide mitigation with retaining walls depends on removal of two natural gas pipelines crossing near the proposed location.

Commissioners also agreed to send out proposals to have new clearance gauges painted on Piers 3 and 4, in accordance with a letter from the U.S. Coast Guard informing the board of federal law stipulating clear markers. The board agreed last month to send letters to the Coast Guard’s Office of Bridge Administration asking for reimbursements to supply the agency with recent inspection and engineering reports.

Inquiries as to the bridge’s stability coincides with recent barge strikes to the bridge – five between March 26 and May 3 during the highest river stages recorded since 1973. High water also caused a still-unresolved electrical failure on the east approach on the Louisiana side. Commissioners said a $3,800 repair job to a blown electrical box there will require permits be secured from the Fifth Louisiana Levee District.