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City contracts with firm to begin work on feasibility of new port

The consulting firm hired by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen to perform a feasibility study for a new Vicksburg Port has received the OK to start its work.

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. of Atlanta, Ga., Monday was authorized by the board to begin its first task under its contract with the city. The board May 10 approved a contract with Jacobs not to exceed $240,000 for the work.

According to the contract, the study will be done in four phases, with the first phase involving gathering information about the area and the Mississippi River, planning, and a market analysis to determine feasibility.

Subsequent phases will involve developing a master plan and other steps leading to the possible design and construction of the port.

“The first task is to take us through the market analysis for the new port,” said Pablo Diaz, executive director of the Vicksburg Warren Partnership. “This is the task that gets it going. We are definitely on our way.”

Diaz said representatives from Jacobs met Wednesday with city officials and the seven-member port committee appointed by Mayor George Flaggs Jr.

The board in May approved a contract not to exceed $240,000 with Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. to perform the study, which is funded by $1 million in state funds.

The port is the key item in a $55 million capital improvements program proposed by Flaggs that would be funded by a 1-cent sales tax. About $26.5 million of the money would serve as matching funds for the port, which the mayor estimates would cost about $125 million.

Flaggs announced the proposed program in April 2018, calling it a “game changer.”

“If we build that port, that’s 500 jobs. If we do that, that’s the biggest game changer since the Civil War in Vicksburg, Mississippi,” he said when he announced the plan.

 The board is expected to seek a local and private, or special bill, during the 2020 session of the Legislature to hold a referendum on the 1-cent tax to fund the program.

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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