Permits OK’d to begin work on Corps MV center

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 22, 2009

An expected 15-month construction period kicked off Monday with city issuance of permits for a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Interpretive Center near City Front with the retired MV Mississippi IV as its centerpiece.

An initial step will be rerouting a municipal gas main that runs under the site. Frank Worley, spokesman for the Corps, said a block of Jackson Street adjacent to the site will be closed during the work. Traffic on Levee Street will be reduced to one lane when needed.

After the ground and utility preparation is finished, additional construction will take place to develop the museum from the ground up, with completion expected in the spring of 2011.

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When completed, the center will allow visitors to tour exhibits and board the MV Mississippi. A walkway and observation deck will be fashioned out of the old Fairground Street bridge, which will be disassembled and rebuilt anew just south of the two larger structures.

The Corps and Pascagoula-based S&M and Associates broke ground in a Nov. 5 ceremony for the contractor’s portion of the project, based on a bid of $7.9 million. Work on restoring the boat itself is being done by the Corps.

In all, the project, which has been funded in phases by Congress, will cost about $16 million. It started in 1994 when former Vicksburg Mayor Joe Loviza bought the former Corps’ flagship for $1.

The interpretive center will become part of a revitalized City Front landscape, which already includes an art park, playground, splash fountain and murals. Also on tap is using the former Levee Street Depot, owned by the city, for a transportation museum and for office space for Vicksburg Main Street and the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Vicksburg is a key city in civil operations of Army engineers. The city is home to the Mississippi Valley Division and the Mississippi River Commission, which manage the nation’s largest river system for navigation and flood control from the headwaters to the Gulf of Mexico, the Vicksburg District, which reports to the MVD, and the Engineering Research and Development Center on Halls Ferry Road, which supports Army military and civil projects.


By Everett Bexley at