Crane at port broken

Published 9:36 am Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Warren County supervisors are expected to declare an emergency next week after hearing Monday the crane at the Port of Vicksburg is broken.

“If there ever was an emergency this is one,” County Engineer John McKee said. “You’ve got an economic engine that’s dead up there now.”

The four-decades old crane did not receive proper maintenance under a contract from pervious port operator, Port Commission director Wayne Mansfield told the board.

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“It’s operable, but it’s not safe to operate, mainly because by our estimation Kinder Morgan did not repair it like they should have done. The thing’s out of gauge. The canopy is nothing but a rail car hanging down going back and forth like rail car, but the rails have gotten out of whack and it’s causing all the ware,” Mansfield said.

“In Kinder’s defense, every time it did go down, they repaired it,” he later said.

Pittsburg, Kan.-based Watco Companies LLC, which owns the short line railroad serving the Port of Vicksburg, took over Port Operations from Kinder Morgan April 1.

Repairing the crane is estimated to cost about $150,000 though parts will have to be machined because of the age of the crane, Mansfield said.

“Let’s get it repaired and get it working as soon as we can and the longer term deal is replacement,” Mansfield said.

Replacing the crane would cost at least an estimated $2 million, McKee said.

“It’s a 40-year-old structure that’s been used heavily and that’s taken its toll,” District 5 Supervisor Richard George said.

Funding to help replacing the aging machinery could come from the Mississippi Development Authority, the Delta Regional Authority and the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Mansfield said.

“They have indicated a willingness to participate but I couldn’t go talk to them until I had a number,” Mansfield said.

Declaring an emergency would allow the county to bypass the state bidding process, which could take up to six months.

“When you’re going to do a repair you’ve got very specific design specs you’ve got to put out in great detail,” McKee said. “By the time they got it built you’d been looking at six months from now.”

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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