Mayor wants bypass road for development on Fisher Ferry Road

Published 7:37 pm Friday, February 22, 2019

Mayor George Flaggs is revisiting plans for a bypass road from U.S. 61 South to the U.S. Army Engineer Research and Development Center.

“I’ve asked (city attorney) Nancy Thomas to begin pursuing what it would take to make a 61 South/sports complex road a reality,” he said at Monday’s meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

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He indicated he may try to acquire the necessary land for the bypass through eminent domain, and hinted at more development on the Fisher Ferry property.

Flaggs said the bypass road is one of two roads he plans to build in the area. The other is an emergency access/exit road for the sports complex further south on Fisher Ferry Road.

Thomas said the city has an easement to build a road from the sports complex site to the south side of St. Michael Catholic Church. City officials in 2008 bought 4 acres from the church to provide access to the Fisher Ferry site before beginning the initial dirt work on the property to transform it into a sports complex.

The city stopped work on the site in 2009 after money for the project was transferred to the Washington Street bridge project to replace the bridge crossing the Kansas City Railroad tracks on Washington Street near WaterView Casino, then known as DiamondJacks.

Flaggs said the emergency road will be built first, “But kid you not, I have every intention of building a road from (U.S.) 61 to that sports complex and to ERDC.

“I have every intention of building it if I have to build it in the sky, because we need it.”

‘We need that road’

Flaggs in 2017 proposed building a bypass road from U.S. 61 South to ERDC starting at Dana Road and going south. The road would also provide a second entrance to the sports complex. The plan was shelved after Dana Road residents complained about it.

Flaggs said after the Monday board meeting that Dana Road is still under consideration as a starting point, but the board would also consider other routes. He also indicated he would move the plan ahead despite objections.

“I will not allow the progress or the progressive movement of this city to be stagnated by few people that don’t live in the city. We need that road,” he said.

“If it takes eminent domain to do it, I’m prepared to do it, because what we’re prepared to do in that location (the remaining 100 acres of the Fisher Ferry property) is unbelievable,” Flaggs said.

“There’s too much undeveloped land in that area for us not to be able to have access to it because of a few naysayers. That road is imperative for the safety and economic vitality of this community. Safety means having access from ERDC, vitality means being able to put the next two projects that we have every intention to put there.”

Flaggs said he has talked with U.S. Rep. Benny Thompson, who is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, about federal funding for the bypass road, and he will meet in two weeks with Central Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall about possible funds for the project.

Annoucement expected soon

Neither Flaggs nor South Ward Alderman Alex Monsour would say what kind of development is coming to the remaining 100 acres at Fisher Ferry, adding an announcement could come in “two to three weeks.”

“What we’re fixing to do is make that a mega site out there, and you’re going to be amazed what happens to the south side of this city and the facility that will generate revenue to fix all the city,” Monsour said.

Most of the undeveloped section of the Fisher Ferry property sits in a floodplain because Hatcher Bayou forms the northern boundary of the property and has been the site of several floods that resulted in a buyout program in the adjacent Hamilton Heights area.

One of the problems affecting development of the property in 2009 was the acquisition of wetlands permits to allow the contractor to work in the area.

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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