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Vicksburg infrastructure projects may get support from federal government

Some capital projects for Vicksburg could receive federal funds under any proposed infrastructure package approved by Congress, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said Thursday.

“If in fact they do an infrastructure bill, I think Vicksburg will be in it,” he said.

Flaggs was one of a nine-member delegation from Warren County that made its annual visit to Washington to meet with the state’s Congressional Delegation to seek funding for capital projects in Vicksburg and Warren County, and give the delegation’s members an update on what’s going on in the area.

“It was a great trip,” Vicksburg-Warren Chamber of Commerce president Mark Buys, another delegation member, said. “We got to see all the members of the Mississippi delegation, which sometimes is hard to do, especially with a new administration coming in. We spent about 15 to 30 minutes meeting with them or their chiefs of staff, which was good, because the staffs are the ones who prepare the bills and keep up with what’s going on locally.”

Buys said the group sent its package of proposed plans to members of the state’s delegation, “So they would be ready and know something about the projects when we got there.”

He said two of the main topics were the proposed $10.6 million 2.5-mile U.S. 61 bypass road, and the 1.5-mile the U.S. 61 North bypass.

The U.S. 61 South bypass, which would start east of Rifle Range Road and go east to intersect with Halls Ferry Road just north of the Halls Ferry/Fisher Ferry split, is seen as part of the city’s plan to relieve traffic congestion on Halls Ferry Road by providing an alternate route for workers with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Engineering Research and Development Center going to and form work.

The U.S. 61 North bypass, also known as the port bypass, would go from Bowie Road west, intersecting with North Washington Street across from the entrance to the Port of Vicksburg on Haining Road. It will shorten the distance between the port and Interstate 20, and reroute 18-wheelers away from downtown.

“The mayor went to Washington in December to discuss those projects, so they were already on the minds of the staffs,” Buys said. “That was a wise move on the mayor’s part.”

He said one item was a late entry — the future of the AmeriCorps program in Vicksburg.

“We were concerned that with a new administration coming in, it may be pulled from the budget,” he said. “Both Sen. (Thad) Cochran and Sen. (Roger) Wicker said they supported keeping AmeriCorps.”

Also discussed were the Jesse Brent Lower Mississippi Museum and Interpretive Center and the Vicksburg National Military Park.

One item was referred back to the state level.

Flaggs said delegation members suggested he meet with state Highway Commissioner Dick Hall to discuss possible state funding for the $1.2 million Kemp Bottom Road bridge project. The bridge is threatened by bank erosion.

“Other than that, I think everything was very productive. We met with all of them and they were very receptive,” Flaggs said. “I think we made our case.”

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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