Plans to repair erosion issue in park available

Published 6:55 pm Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Area residents have the opportunity to examine the environmental assessment and alternative plans to repair an erosion problem affecting a bluff adjacent to the Texas State Memorial and Railroad Redoubt earthworks in Vicksburg National Military Park.

The park previously accepted comments on an environmental assessment involving initial plans for the repair project.

The redoubt and the memorial are threatened by erosion caused by dirt sloughing off the bluff.

The problem, Vicksburg National Military Park superintendent Bill Justice said in February, is dirt from a railroad cut for Kansas City Southern Railroad tracks north of the two sites is slowly sloughing off dirt and posing a serious threat to the well-known stops in the park.

“They are equally in danger,” he said at the time.

Kansas City Southern, he said, has cooperated with the National Park Service and VNMP officials by allowing access to the area around the site so the problem can be assessed.

“This EA is different from the first one,” said acting park superintendent Sarah Davis. “This one is more specific. It gives the different alternatives we looked at, and it explains the reasons for the solution we chose. It’s very detailed.”

Davis said the repairs will involve a type of retaining wall called a soldier pile wall.

“We will start building it at the top of the ridge and work down so the work doesn’t interfere with railroad,” she said. “There will be less excavation of the soil, so we’re not affecting our resources and we won’t be disturbing any archaeological sites.”

A Confederate earthen fortification, the Railroad Redoubt was built to protect the Southern Railroad of Mississippi, which was a vital entrance to the city. The Union assault on the redoubt on May 22, 1863, resulted in some of the fiercest combat of the siege, resulting in heavy causalities.

The fortification and the memorial, like the park, are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

The National Park Service will have a 30-day public review period to solicit public comments on the environmental assessment and the alternative repair plans.

Comments will be accepted through Aug. 30, and can be submitted on line at the Park Service’s Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/VICK, or submit written comments to Sarah Davis, Acting Superintendent Vicksburg National Military Park, Attn: Stabilization Environmental Assessment, 3201 Clay St., Vicksburg, MS 39183.

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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