Landslide test cost city, county more than $50K

Published 9:51 am Thursday, May 7, 2015

Tests to determine the cause and extent of a landslide on the bluff at Riverfront Park will cost more than $50,000, city and county officials have learned.

John McKee with Stantec, the county’s engineers, told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen and Warren County officials at a joint meeting Tuesday the estimate from Burns Cooley Dennis of Jackson to test the slide area is $52,800 to take six soil borings at the site, install and monitor inclinometers, which detect areas of movement, and test soil samples from the site.

The Board of Supervisors is expected to discuss the plan and the estimate Monday. Riverfront Park is owned jointly by the city of Vicksburg and Warren County. The city will pay half the cost of the testing.

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City and county officials met Tuesday afternoon to discuss the slide problem and whether to relocate the playground equipment near the landslide to a site on the park’s northern end before testing begins.

McKee recommended taking no action on the playground until the test results are presented.

“I think these guys need to come in and put in their inclinometers and see where the slide is, how deep it’s going to go,” he said. “Let them do their thing and see what we’ve got.”

“It wouldn’t be any use to move the playground if it’s too expensive to fix it (the slide),” Board of Supervisors president Bill Lauderdale said.

If the governments decide to repair the slide, McKee added, they will need the approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Anytime you’re near the waters of the state, as they like to call it, you’re going to have (to get a) permit,” he said.

North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield asked if a Corps permit would be necessary if the work were done from the top of the bluff and toward the river. He said in previous meetings with the Corps about a slide in another area of the park, “they didn’t seem to have a problem coming off the hill (the top of the bluff) down with some kind of rip-rap or something of that nature. I think they would be more favorable if we come from top down.”

McKee believed the Corps would work with the governments on permits.

“But until we actually get something in the ground out there and figure out where the slide is and what’s going on, it’s guesswork,” he said.

And testing can’t begin until after the river gets below 20 feet, he said.

“We may be looking at August or September … it might be later on,” Lauderdale said. “Really, we need to sit on hold until we get these borings and find out what’s going on. We need to look at the numbers, because it could be we can’t afford it. We need to listen to these engineers and these borings, and make a decision.”

The slide, which was reported in early April, is on the bluff at the southern end of the park and threatens the playground and its equipment. It has also forced officials to put a hold on planned improvements at the park, including resurfacing its access road and parking areas and adding additional parking space.

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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