Floodwall extension at City Front coming down Train traffic could restart in 10 days

Published 12:30 am Saturday, June 4, 2011

Parts of the extension built to Vicksburg’s floodwall began coming down Friday in an effort to restart rail traffic scuttled for a month.

Four sections of crossties had come down by mid-afternoon in an effort to clear the way for rail traffic, city sewer department chief Willie McCroy said. The work at City Front will resume Monday, he said.

“We’re going to stay at it and take breaks,” McCroy said. “It’s so hot.”

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Temperatures in Vicksburg reached the upper 90s Friday, and more of the same is expected next week.

Rail service ended May 4 on 21 miles of track from Redwood to south Vicksburg. Part of the rail-track panel was used to bracket sections of the makeshift wall near the old Levee Street Depot, an effort aided by motorized pumps once floodwater began to pour through roofing sealant between ties.

Kansas City Southern Railway will install a new track panel once the wall of crossties is down, expected Monday, said Tracie L. VanBecelaere, of Kansas-based Watco Companies which leases the 21 miles of track between Redwood and south Vicksburg. If both jobs are far enough along Monday, rail traffic should return June 13 to industries on the city’s waterfront and at the Port of Vicksburg.

Meanwhile, resumption in business, rail service and electricity to International Paper’s Vicksburg Mill is apparently off for another two weeks.

Deliveries via rail to the Mississippi 3 plant can’t resume until the river drops another 4 feet, VanBecelaere said.

Power can’t be restored to the Redwood area until June 17 due to current water levels, the Yazoo Valley Electric Power Association said this week, stressing customers in its four-county service area conserve energy. Of the 787 electricity meters pulled due to flooding, 147 were in Warren County, member services coordinator Rebecca Yeates said.

Some of IP’s 296 workers have returned to work and preparations are under way for a full restart, said communications manager Helen Hawkins.

“The exact timing of startup will remain unclear until reliable power is restored,” Hawkins said.

Levels on the Lower Mississippi River system continued dropping overnight.

At Vicksburg, the river was 50.9 feet Friday evening, down two-tenths of a foot from the morning. Similar drops were recorded Friday in Greenville, which stood at 54.52 feet, and Natchez, at 57.76 feet. Flood stage at Vicksburg is 43 feet.

U.S. 61 north and south of Vicksburg reopened to traffic Wednesday and Friday when state highway officials deemed foundations of each to be sufficiently drained of floodwater to handle traffic.

Ten miles of Mississippi 465 between U.S. 61 North and Eagle Lake and 2 miles of Mississippi 16 at Mississippi 149 in Yazoo County remain off limits until mid-month, officials have said.