City officials seek $1.6M to help cover cost of erosion project

Published 7:44 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The city of Vicksburg is seeking $1.6 million in emergency watershed protection money to help cover the cost of stabilizing the west bank of Hennessey’s Bayou in south Vicksburg.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Monday approved applying for National Resource Conservation Service for the money, which will pay 75 percent of the estimated $2.21 million project to fix the erosion problem. The city’s share is $554,687.

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Bank erosion problems caused city officials to close the Kemp Bottom Road bridge on July 25, 2017. The bridge collapsed two days later.

The application for funds is the latest step for the city in the fight to save the bank and eventually replace the Kemp Bottom Road bridge. In April, the city and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers signed an agreement enabling the Corps to help the city develop a plan to stabilize Hennessy Bayou’s west bank. Under the agreement, the city and the Corps will split the study’s $75,000 cost.

The problem with the bridge dates back to the 2011 spring Mississippi River flood, when the river crested on May 19, 2011, at 57.1 feet, 14.1 feet above flood stage and nine-tenths of a foot above the Great Flood of 1927. During the flood, the bayou, which drains into the Mississippi River, began looking for a shorter route to the river.

Engineers said the water entering Hennessy’s Bayou during the flood receded quickly and created the present erosion problem that caused the bridge to collapse.

The cost of replacing the bridge, which is not included in the stabilization process, is estimated at about $2 million.

But replacing the bridge is one of the problems affected by the eroding bank. Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said the erosion problem threatens the Warrenton Road bridge, which crosses Hennessy’s Bayou north of Kemp Bottom Road, and the transmission lines at Entergy’s Baxter Wilson power plant.

Flaggs said the city has to stabilize the bank, “So we can get to protecting the Warrenton bridge, because if you don’t to do this (fix the bank), Vicksburg, Warrenton bridge is going to be in trouble.

“And we do not want to impede the plant, which provides energy for three states.”

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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