DiamondJacks closing busy ‘detour’ road on Tuesday

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 17, 2009

DiamondJacks Casino on Tuesday morning will close a gravel access road between the riverfront casino and Lee Street that’s become a popular detour around the nearby bridge at Washington and Clark streets since its closure in January.

“It was never designed to be a detour, but everybody uses it anyway,” DiamondJacks General Manager Felicia Gavin said. “The added traffic has really created a safety issue for our employees and customers. We’ve had some close calls and there’s the potential for a lot of accidents.”

The posted detour around the bridge takes motorists around City Park east via Lee Street and Army Navy Drive. However, many motorists have discovered a shorter route by taking Lee Street west to the railroad tracks, which are not protected by gates, and crossing over to the gravel access road that is connected to the DiamondJacks parking lot.

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The access road will be closed indefinitely at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Gavin said the casino was not asked by the city to close the access road, which she added is now having foundation problems due to the increased traffic.

“We were hoping the bridge would be replaced before this became an issue, but it’s been 10 months now,” said Gavin.

The city has been scrambling for months to find approximately $3 million to get the bridge replacement project underway. The 80-year-old bridge is to be replaced with a road-topped railway tunnel. The project is being overseen by Kansas City Southern Railway, and everything is in place for construction to begin except the funds.

When the city began planning for the bridge replacement in 2006, it estimated the cost at $5 million and set aside exactly that much of a $16.9 million bond issue for the work. The Federal Railroad Administration is to reimburse the city $4 million of the cost. However, when bids were taken on the work earlier this year the cost had grown to nearly twice the original estimate.

After months of negotiations, KCS has awarded Kanza Construction of Topeka, Kan., the bid at $8.6 million, but construction will not begin until the funds are in place.


Contact Steve Sanoski at ssanoski@vicksburgpost.com