Mayor: Infrastructure upgrades needed for development

Published 8:00 pm Monday, October 15, 2018

The damaged sewer and storm drain lines at Washington and Crawford streets are one of the costs of Vicksburg’s growth and prosperity downtown, Mayor George Flaggs said.

Flaggs comments came after the Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the emergency declaration issued Oct. 4 when a break in the 24-inch storm drain was discovered. Workers with Hemphill Construction Co. of Florence are making the repairs to the storm drain and a 6-inch sewer line that broke after the storm drain.

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The mayor would not say when the street will be reopened.

He said more breaks can be expected in the city’s 110-year-old sewer lines and 100-year-old waterlines in the future.

“Downtown was never designed for the kind of loft apartments and the type of water flow and sewage flow that we are receiving because of the number of loft apartments,” he said, adding the city’s infrastructure downtown has not been upgraded to handle the increased use.

“You just have to wait until something happens and improve it as you go, because there was no way any administration would have been able to predict any of this. It’s one of those things; when you see growth in a community, just know that a cost of growth is associated later on. Especially when you’re dealing with infrastructure.”

North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said after the meeting the city has two other critical areas downtown. One is a broken 8-inch sewer line at the intersection of Clay Street and Washington, and another is a damaged sewer line in the area of Washington and China Street.

“We’re attempting to check all the lines downtown,” he said. “We’re just trying to keep up; there’s no way we can get ahead. Those lines were not made to handle the load from all the businesses and the lofts. Right now, we’re doing ‘wait and see.’”

Flaggs commended the public works and utilities department employees for their work in finding the problem on Washington Street and working on other problems. He said the city was criticized for blocking Washington Street early, but the area below the street at the break had a large vacant hole. “It was big enough for a car. It’s a good thing that didn’t happen.”

He said the city “did the right thing declaring the emergency; we did the right thing closing it off.”

In another matter, a Vicksburg contractor has been hired by the city to make improvements at Fuzzy Johnson Park.

The Board of Mayor and Alderman Monday accepted the $168,655.63 bid of Moss Construction to build a pavilion with restrooms at the park and improve and resurface the basketball court and install new goals.

Money for the project is included in the second draw of the city’s 2015 $18 million capital improvements bond issue.

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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