City to study new projects

Published 9:45 am Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Vicksburg’s transportation systems will be put under the microscope under an infrastructure assessment and strategy study to be conducted by a Jackson engineering firm.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday approved a $135,000 agreement with Waggoner Engineering Inc./AJA to perform the study, which will include recommendations for funding and budgeting the projects.

Waggoner already has a contract with the city to design utility line relocation along South Frontage Road for the proposed South Frontage Road extension project to cross the Kansas City Southern Railroad tracks and link the east and west sections of the road.

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“This is the second phase of our five-year infrastructure plan,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said after the meeting. “These are the priorities. This is the phase we need so we can do two things — we can make preparations, and at the same time, we can seek opportunities for state and federal funding.

“The other part of this phase is, it will draw all of our infrastructure together — our roads and bridges together. How we can enhance transportation in the city of Vicksburg and around Vicksburg. Part of this is how to increase access to the harbor project going from Haining Road all the way to (U.S.) Highway 61 (north). That’s what we need if we’re going to be competitive with expanding the port and getting goods and raw materials to (the) Continental (tire plant).”

South Ward Alderman Willis Thompson said under the agreement Waggoner will assess the city’s entire infrastructure system, including roads, the port, Vicksburg Municipal airport and transportation.

“What they’re going to do is assess our transportation needs as far as our roadways, and make some recommendations to the board and turn that into a transportation plan,” he said. “ One of the immediate things we need to do is upgrade our traffic signals around the city, so that will be the immediate thing.

“They’re going to assess the traffic flow, make sure our transportation system is up to safety standards. Everything will be in a plan. They’ll also make some recommendations on programming and they also are going to seek funding sources for us from the state and federal level.”

When he went to Washington, D.C., in March, Thompson said, federal highway officials recommended cities have plan ready to apply for federal money available under the federal Highway Bill, which was passed earlier in the year.

“I do think we have some major infrastructure projects that we’re going to need some federal funding in order to get them done,” he said.

Flaggs said the complete plan will provide the information necessary to present to federal and state officials to seek funds.

“This allows me to have a tool to convince the federal government and the state government why we need this money for infrastructure. It will almost be shovel-ready,” he said. “In my opinion, this (the plan) is one of the greatest pathways to the future for the city of Vicksburg.”

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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