Popular river viewing spots remain closed

Published 4:06 pm Sunday, June 3, 2018

Two of the city’s overlook areas for viewing the Mississippi River remain closed by the National Park Service as federal officials work to remedy safety issues at both sites.

Louisiana Circle, near the Ameristar Casino and Riverfront Park, and Navy Circle by the Vicksburg Welcome Center at Interstate 20 and Washington Street, are two of the most popular spots for viewing the Mississippi because of their unrestricted view of the river. Both, however, have problems that make them unsafe and are closed until further notice.

Bill Justice, Vicksburg National Military Park superintendent, said Federal Highway Administration officials ordered Louisiana Circle closed because an erosion problem is affecting the road at the site.

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“The problem we have, we’ve had this gradually for several years,” he said. “It was a problem when I got here, but it’s become even worse. The ground underneath the roadway at the top of Louisiana Circle has been eroding away.

“The Federal Highway folks came in last year while we were trying to deal with some other issues, and they went and looked at that particular place and immediately recommended that we close it. It’s been closed since then.”

He said work is under way to resolve and repair the problem.

The Navy Circle, Justice said has a different problem — it needs a railing to protect visitors from falling off the edge of the overlook.

The problem, he said, is the result of erosion work done by the Warren County Bridge Commission begun in October and finished early this year.

“When the repairs were done by the bridge commission to the slope in that area, they stabilized that whole slope with soil nails, and in order to do that, they removed all the vegetation,” Justice said.

“What that caused is a hazard for anyone who’s standing up toward the edge of there, and it’s a two-pronged hazard. You not only have the issue of falling off a significant distance, but if you go and you take a look at it, there’s actually some of these soil nails that actually stick out from the surface of the ground, so you could not only fall, but you could be injured on one of those as well.”

He said the plan is to design a railing “that’s obvious, and be sufficient to support the weight (of activity) and at the same time looks good.”

He said the design of the railing has been delayed by maintenance and repair projects at the park.

“We’re aware of the popularity of Navy Circle, and we keep the Vicksburg Convention and Visitors Bureau updated where we are with that.

“Until the railing is up there, it’s not a safe place to be to standing right on that edge, especially if people are going up there after hours — you can’t see where the edge is; it’s dangerous.

“If we have an area open to the public, we want to make sure it’s safe.”

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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