Repairs continue on busted storm drain, sewer line at Washington and Crawford

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, October 10, 2018

City officials remain uncertain when the intersection of Washington and Crawford Streets will be reopened to traffic, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said Wednesday.

“I don’t have a time on it,” Flaggs said at a Wednesday morning meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. “This is a serious, serious job that’s being performed down there.

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“They’ve identified the problem, but they’ve got to do some preventive things in terms of preparing the waterline (in the hole) by putting a valve in, so if something happens while they’re working around that area, we won’t lose the total water supply in the north part of the city.”

Washington Street was blocked from South Street north to Clay Street Oct. 4 after a city sewer department crew found a broken 24-inch storm drain under the street at Washington and Crawford. The board Oct. 4 declared an emergency, which allowed the board to hire a contractor without having to go through the bid process. Hemphill Construction was hired to make the repairs. Flaggs said the total cost of the repairs will not be known until they are finished.

Public Works director Garnet Van Norman said city crews also discovered a broken 6-inch sewer line after digging under the street.

Both damaged lines are more than 100 years old, and are about 10 feet in the ground.

Van Norman said the storm drain, which flows into a more than 100-year-old brick drainage tunnel under the street, broke first and began sucking out the dirt supporting the sewer line, which was above it. When its support was removed, he said, the sewer line collapsed. He said people downtown had been complaining about an odor in the area.

He said the waterline is located above the damaged lines, and workers will have to install a valve on the line as a safety measure.

“The waterline goes over that tunnel, so it’s fairly shallow,” he said. “It’s too dangerous to work under that waterline with water in it. We’ve got to cut it off to fix the storm sewer and the sanitary sewer. We’re hoping it doesn’t break, but if it does, we’ll have the water off.”

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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