City, engineers to meet with residents on new waterline

Published 11:13 am Friday, April 4, 2014

City officials and representatives from IMS Engineers will meet with residents of Fort Hill Drive in early July to discuss the impact of construction of an auxiliary waterline on the street. Talks will involve those who live between Vicksburg National Military Park south to Fayette Street.

“The board realizes how serious a project this is and the kind of impact it will have on the people living on Fort Hill,” North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said after a Thursday morning meeting on the proposed line, the final part of which will be laid down the center of Fort Hill Drive.

“We want to make the general public aware of what is going on with that project. Some people are going to be inconvenienced, I’m not going to say they won’t be.”

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The July date corresponds with the estimated date IMS Engineers expects to have its project designs ready. The Jackson firm is the lead engineer on the project, which, if plans hold, would begin in August.

City officials propose to install a 30-inch auxiliary waterline to provide water to the city’s estimated 10,000 customers if something happens to the city’s 36-inch main water line that runs along Washington Street. The project is estimated at $3.2 million, with $2.45 million of it coming from a grant from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

Broken out, the city’s match to finance the work comes to $841,821.

The line would start at the water treatment plant at Haining Road, go north along North Washington Street to a point south of Vicksburg National Cemetery, where it will cross park property and go down the center of Fort Hill Drive to Cherry Street, where it would connect with an existing city line on Jackson Street.

“We’re going to rebuild the street,” said Larry Harper of IMS Engineers. “When we get through, it will be a new street.”

Laying the line in the street will require city officials to detour traffic from Fort Hill Drive during periods of construction, possibly moving it through the park during the estimated 90 days it could take to complete installing the line in the street.

On Thursday, Mayfield and Mayor George Flaggs Jr. repeated that the job has hung out there long enough.

“Time is of the essence,” Mayfield said. “We’ve been dealing with this thing for three years. It’s time to get our Ps and Qs in line. We have to do it.”

“It is imperative that we get this project done,” Flaggs said.

Harper said developing a traffic plan that local park officials and National Park Service’s regional office in Atlanta will approve is the final obstacle to getting permits from the park service to allow the waterline to cross the park to Fort Hill Drive.

“We have approval for the permits from the railroad and we had submitted our plans to the Mississippi Department of Health and are working with them,” he told city officials and representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Vicksburg National Military Park and the Vicksburg-Warren County Chamber of Commerce at the Thursday meeting.

“We need to have a traffic plan that is acceptable to the park,” he said.

Traffic control was one of two issues on Fort Hill Drive facing the city. The other was getting approval from Warren County to work on the street, which has been a county road since 1936, when it was deeded to the county by the park service.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen in February signed an interlocal agreement with the Warren County Board of Supervisors to maintain and repair the street.

Plans for the project began in 2010 after a sudden shift in the soil below Washington Street during construction of the Corps’ Lower Mississippi River Museum and Interpretive Center threatened the city’s main 36-inch water line. The line was later relocated.

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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