Bridge commission passes resolution to open Old Vicksburg Bridge to public daily

Published 7:00 pm Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Vicksburg Bridge Commission is the latest body to throw their support behind opening the Old Mississippi River Bridge to the public on a daily basis.

The bridge commission, which oversees the bridge, has passed a resolution

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In January, the bridge commission directed its attorney Robert Bailess to draft a letter supporting efforts by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen, Warren County Board of Supervisors, and Friends of the Vicksburg Bridge to convince Kansas City Southern Railroad to drop its objections to opening the bridge to pedestrian and bicycle traffic daily on the 18-foot wide bridge deck.

The city and county, as well as Madison Parish, Louisiana, and Delta, Louisiana, have approved resolutions opening the bridge to the public.

Kansas City Southern, which leases the rail line over the bridge, has opposed previous attempts to opening the bridge for public access, citing safety concerns.

Warren County bought the bridge in 1947, while KCSR has leased the tracks since the bridge opened in 1930.

The bridge deck shared access to the bridge with the railroad up until 1998 when vehicle traffic was permanently denied. Since then, the bridge deck has only been used for special events, such as Bricks and Spokes and Supper on the ‘Sip.

Bridge Commission Chairman Bob Moss said the railroad’s objections are a major hurdle to opening the bridge to the public.

The railroad, he said during a January bridge commission meeting, “is still an unsolved hurdle and it does not appear to me to be any softer now that it was.”

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr., said he has asked Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi), to help schedule a meeting of city and county officials, as well as Friends of the Vicksburg Bridge representatives, to discuss the objections with Kansas City Southern officials. He believes a unified front could change the minds of KCSR officials.

No meeting has been scheduled as of Friday.

Flaggs also recently revealed a plan to install a screen to shield the railroad track from the road deck. He said the proposed screen is similar to one installed on an old bridge in Memphis, Tennessee, that has since been converted into a public walkway and park.