Mayor Flaggs heads to Washington to push infrastructure needs here

Published 6:48 pm Saturday, September 16, 2017

The U.S. 61 South connector road and the intermodel connector from U.S. 61 North to the Port of Vicksburg top the list of items Mayor George Flaggs Jr. is taking with him on a day trip to Washington, D.C., to meet with Mississippi’s Congressional Delegation to get assistance for pending projects in the city.

Flaggs is expected to fly to Washington Monday morning and return that evening.

“There are some infrastructure bills that they (Congress) have to fund,” he said. “I’m going to reiterate the needs for the city of Vicksburg. The purpose of this meeting is to have a last minute face-to-face meeting to reiterate the projects that are a priority for Vicksburg.”

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One project not on the list is the Kemp Bottom Road bridge, which collapsed in July from problems on the west bank of Hennessey Bayou caused by erosion. Part of the problem is the process of the bayou finding a new course to the Mississippi River near Entergy’s Baxter Wilson power plant.

Replacing the bridge and repairing the bank is expected to cost more than $1 million.

Projects on Flaggs’ list include:

• The U.S. 61 South connector road. Estimated at $10 million, preliminary designs indicate the road will start at Dana Road off U.S. 61 South and go east to connect with Halls Ferry Road.

The project is expected to provide an access road to the proposed sports complex at the city’s property on Fisher Ferry Road, and help relieve traffic congestion on Halls Ferry Road hear the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.

• The estimated $7 million U.S. 61 North bypass is expected to shorten the distance between the highway and Interstate 20 and reroute 18-wheelers away from downtown. Presently, 18-wheelers heading north to the Port of Vicksburg take a route that puts them on Washington Street to Levee Street and then back on Washington, creating traffic problems downtown.

The 1.5-mile road will begin on U.S. 61 North across from Bowie Road and go west, intersecting with North Washington Street across from the port entrance on Haining Road.

Building the connector would also remove truck traffic off Washington Street and away from downtown, and shorten the district between the port and I-20.

It could also allow for the expansion of other businesses in the area and make the area attractive to business from the Continental Tire plant being built near Clinton, officials said.

• Local competitive transportation funding program. Flaggs wants Congress to allow local governments to compete for federal surface transportation funds allocated to the states.

• Auxiliary water line. Called the “592 Project” for the funding source for a $2.45 million U.S. Army Corps of Engineers grant for the project, the auxiliary waterline is estimated to cost $3.565 million with the city paying the balance of the cost. City officials are waiting for a permit from the Kansas City Southern Railroad, project approval by the Mississippi Department of Health and an easement for Warren County before putting the project out for bids. Flaggs is seeking additional funding for the project.

• More money for dredging at the Port of Vicksburg.

• Continued funding for the Jesse L. Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum and Interpretive Center. The city is seeking continued financial support for the museum to keep it open, and provides two part-time maintenance workers.

• Expanding the Vicksburg National Military Park. Flaggs is seeking continued support to ensure the Raymond, Champion Hill and Port Gibson sites involved in Gen. Ulysses Grant’s Vicksburg Campaign receive continued financial assistance.

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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