LeTourneau Road reopens Quick drain helped save its surface

Published 11:45 am Tuesday, June 21, 2011

LeTourneau Road reopened to traffic Monday after parts west of Glass Road emerged from the Mississippi Flood of 2011 almost unscathed while inspections were to continue today at the Port of Vicksburg’s loading area, county engineers said.

“We just have to do some work on the shoulder,” County Engineer John McKee said, adding expected repairs to some edges along the eastbound lane should be less extensive than in 2008, when nearly a mile of the lane washed out. The river crested May 19 at 57.1 feet, 14.1 feet above flood stage and 6 feet higher than in 2008.

Subsurface water drained faster than expected, McKee said. The section between Glass and the plant, most susceptible to river floods, had closed May 6. No specific flood-related weight restriction is expected for trucks, which motored freely Monday.

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Nearly all of LeTourneau Technologies’ 600 or so employees have returned to work, with the riverside yard running a pair of 12-hour shifts, plant manager Bo-D Massey said. A reduced work crew had boated onto the property from early May until last week, when the main access road to the plant became fully passable, though left dusty from receding river water.

“We’re back at about 90 percent and doing flood cleanup,” Massey said.

Inspectors should get a better look at the port’s T-dock crane support platform and the overhead crane itself today with the arrival of an extra person, McKee said. Both were out of commission for nearly all of May as the river backed up into the Yazoo Diversion Canal and the slackwater harbor. Cargo moved a week ago for the first time in weeks, port officials said.

The five-member Warren County Port Commission voted Monday to include an option to extend Kinder Morgan’s current deal by six months to accommodate the company’s most recent industrial mover.

Barges backed up during intermittent river traffic restrictions in May, weeks after the port voted April 18 to extend the company’s lease for a year to preserve a deal with DuPont to ship mineral ore through the port. Supply orders are backed up and may last beyond December 2012, when the recent extension expires, said Tom Murphree, Kinder Morgan regional sales manger.

“They can’t guarantee that,” Murphree said. “That’s why they want the option.”

In another flood-related development, the Warren County Road Department has returned the Kings Point Ferry to its anchor spot at Chickasaw, though department manager Richard Winans said mud prevents resuming operations.