Mayor’s connections, effort to bring all to the table on bridge issue is very helpful

Published 7:13 pm Saturday, January 12, 2019

Mayor George Flaggs Jr., should be commended for taking the bull by the horns and driving forward in efforts to finally get the Old Mississippi River Bridge open year-round to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.

Flaggs is showing leadership in using his connections and bringing all the parties involved in making the possibility closer to reality.

This week, Flaggs enlisted the help of Sen. Roger Wicker to make contact with Kansas City Southern Railroad officials who have expressed their concern in opening the 18-foot wide deck they share with the historic bridge. Flaggs said he received a letter from KCSR officials stating they would be willing to meet with local officials and others, including representatives of the Friends of the Vicksburg Bridge, to discuss the bridge.

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“Going forward, there are a number of things we’re going to have to do to get the bridge open,” Flaggs said. “There are challenges. We’re going to do this in the best way (so) that Kansas City can open the door for some real dialogue and discussion on the bridge. I think we can make progress.”

Flaggs said he’s like to see the bridge open to daily bicycle and pedestrian traffic before the end of the year. He’s not the only one.

Tourism officials, business leaders and others who have enjoyed occasional events on the bridge also have a desire to see the bridge used daily for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Yes, it’s true the city of Vicksburg does not own the bridge, but the mayor realizes what a huge deal it would mean to the city if the bridge were open daily for locals and tourists.

The bridge is owned by Warren County and overseen by the Vicksburg Bridge Commission. Commission chairman Bob Moss directed the commission’s attorney this week to draft a letter of support for opening the bridge. The decision whether to send the letter is ultimately in the hands of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, but the county and city both approved resolutions last year opening the bridge to the public daily.

There is plenty of public support for opening the bridge daily, but it’s good to know we have a mayor who is willing to not only take on this project, but also use his connections to bring all those involved to the table to discuss the issue.