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Corps, city reach agreement on new waterline

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will be providing $4.5 million toward the construction of an auxiliary waterline for Vicksburg.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Wednesday authorized Mayor George Flaggs Jr. to sign an amended agreement increasing the Corps’ grant for the project from $2.45 million to $4.5 million. According to the amendment, the total cost of the project is estimated at $6 million with the city paying $1.5 million.

Flaggs and Vicksburg District commander Col. Robert Hilliard are expected sign the agreement at an 11 a.m. ceremony Thursday at the Robert Major Walker building on Walnut Street.

“This is the final step before we go out for bids,” Flaggs said. “Within 60 days we should see something.”

Discussions about building an auxiliary waterline began in 2010 when the city’s main line was exposed during construction for the Jesse L. Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum and Interpretive Center on Washington Street.

The Corps originally approved the $2.45 million grant under a Water Resources Development Act infrastructure program known as Section 592 to help fund the auxiliary line project. At the time, the project was estimated at $3.29 million, and city’s share was $841,821.

A lack of action over a three-year period, however, caused the project cost to nearly double.

In November 2010, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen hired IMS Engineers of Jackson to perform the engineering for the project. There was little action by city officials on the project after IMS’ hiring until November 2013, when Flaggs called a meeting of IMS representatives, city officials, and Corps and National Military Park officials.

The board later fired IMS after project bids came in an estimated $2 to $3 million over budget. The board in 2016 hired EJES Engineering of Jackson to replace IMS, which had the line going through a portion of the Vicksburg National Military Park to Fort Hill Drive and then to Jackson Street to connect with an existing line.

EJES has changed the line’s route to go south on Washington Street to Jackson Street.

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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