Washington repairs to come from rec budget

Published 11:47 am Thursday, April 26, 2012

In a move reminiscent of 2009, cash in the city’s recreation fund has been transferred to the street department for repairs to Washington Street.

The Vicksburg Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Wednesday voted 3-0 to transfer $265,000. In 2009, $3.7 million in funds for the Fisher Ferry recreation project was transferred to help pay for repairs to the Washington Street bridge. The bridge, which reopened Feb. 18, is just north of the site on Washington Street where problems with a retaining wall have affected the street.

Mayor Paul Winfield said Wednesday that the $265,000 for the repair project includes $150,000 for lighting at Bazinsky Field that was freed when the city entered its contract with Siemens Corp. to install energy- efficient lighting in city buildings and parks. Siemens, he said, will install the lights.

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“The other money was funds that were in the budget to be reallocated and were going to be put in the reserve fund (for recreation),” he said.

Two days ago, Winfield’s plans to build a sports complex died when the Mississippi House killed legislation seeking permission to levy a ½ percent sales tax increase, with the approval of 60 percent of the voters, to fund the project. Winfield has said he will reintroduce the project at a later date.

On Wednesday, the board also extended the emergency declaration it approved for Washington Street on Feb. 28 when the problem was discovered. The board on April 16 authorized City Clerk Walter Osborne to advertise for bids on the repairs.

“We decided to go out for bids for the repairs because we believe we can get a good price for the work,” Winfield said. City officials would not release an estimate for the project, but Winfield said in March the project was estimated at $225,000.

Saradhi Balla of IMS Engineers, the project manager for the repairs, said April 16 that the work is expected to take about 45 days. He said the project involves reinforcing the retaining wall and repairing a section of the street south of the bridge.

Balla said the retaining wall will be braced by about 30 anchors installed horizontally and vertically in the ground and against the wall to keep it from moving. He said the wall is structurally sound.

The board declared the emergency and restricted traffic on Washington Street south of the bridge in late February after a city crew repairing a water leak saw the wall move as heavy trucks went by, adding there is a gap between the wall and the slope.

The problem was discovered shortly after the new bridge, which had been closed for three years for construction, was reopened to traffic. City officials have said the problem with the wall, which was built in 1929 when the bridge was built or the early 1930s, is not related to the bridge.

When the emergency was declared, the board ordered that vehicles weighing more than 26,001 pounds, which includes tractor-trailer rigs, log trucks, school buses and large emergency vehicles, be detoured from the street.

The Washington Street bridge was closed in 2009 while Kansas City Southern Railway and Kanza Construction Co. of Topeka, Kan., replaced the bridge with a concrete bridge atop a railroad tunnel.