City gives go-ahead for bridge timeline, depot flood repairs

Published 12:55 am Friday, September 23, 2011

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen Friday amended two project agreements — granting Kansas City Southern Railroad an extension until Feb. 28 on the Washington Street bridge and completing a $33,000 project amendment to repair flood damage at the old Levee Street depot.

The board approved the Washington Street extension after receiving a written request from KCS on Thursday. The request came eight days before the Sept. 30 deadline to complete the work.

City attorney Lee David Thames Jr. said KCS representatives expect to finish the project by Feb. 2, but wanted more time to cover any problems, such as weather. To catch up, he said, officials expect to run double shifts between the remainder of this month and Nov. 9.

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“This amendment will not cost the city any money,” Thames said.

He added that the railroad and Kanza Construction of Topeka, Kan., the project subcontractor, ran across a number of problems with the project, which involves installing a tunnel topped by a road in place of the bridge.

The two main problems, Thames said, were with installing the retaining wall that will line the railroad tracks, and the confined work area around the tunnel covering the tracks in the area.

“Right now, the dump trucks have limited access to the construction site (off the Lee Street connector road),” he said. “This is going to cost Kansas City Southern and Kanza more money as this goes on.”

Under the agreement, Thames said, KCS will pay the fees for TranSystems, the city’s project engineer, to keep an on-site inspector at the project, and is negotiating a project amendment with Kanza estimated at $1.6 million.

“Things like this happen in the construction business,” Mayor Paul Winfield said. “Things can occur, especially on complex projects like this.

“Kansas City Southern is paying the additional money, so I’m sure they don’t want to drag this out,” he added. “We want to help them help us.”

The 82-year-old bridge was closed in January 2009 because of unstable, eroding soil. Work began in June 2010 on the $8.6 million project. Work was supposed to be complete by June 30, but multiple problems forced KCS to seek a 90-day extension to Sept. 30.

For the old Levee Street depot, the contract amendment approved Friday allows the contractor, Kenneth R. Thompson Jr. Builder, to repair work that was damaged when the Mississippi River put 4 feet of water in the 104-year-old building.

The Mississippi River reached record heights in Vicksburg, cresting at 57.1 feet on May 19, 14.1 feet above flood stage and 1.3 foot above the Great Flood of 1927.

The flood damage was not covered by Thompson’s insurance. Winfield said the city has filed a claim with the Federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement.

The depot is being renovated into a transportation museum and office space for tourism agencies.