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Waterline expansion to begin in October

According to a contract amendment between the city and project engineer EJES, work on Vicksburg’s auxiliary waterline could begin in October. 

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Thursday approved the amendment, which details the timeline for the project, moments after authorizing city clerk Walter Osborne to advertise for bids for the project.

According to the amendment, a bid is expected to be awarded and a notice to proceed with the project approved in August with the final construction documents completed in September. Construction is expected to take a year to complete.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. signed an agreement on July 12 with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Vicksburg District for $4.5 million in the Water Resources Development Act Section 592 infrastructure program grant money to help cover the cost of the estimated $6 million project. The city’s share of the project cost is $1.5 million.

“This is a great day for the future of Vicksburg,” Flaggs said after the ceremony.

“This is a great beginning because this was a project I inherited. It’s been a long time coming, and I’m just so grateful that we got this grant. We’re getting ready to go out for construction, and I hope it will come within the money that’s allowed.”

Flaggs said the waterline would start at the city’s water treatment center on Haining Road and go south, running parallel to Washington Street. It will connect to the existing waterline at Washington Street in front of the Jesse L. Brent Lower Mississippi River Museum and Interpretive Center.

He said a crossing valve was installed on the city’s main waterline when repairs were made to the line in 2010 after the line was exposed and damaged during the construction of the museum.

“All we have to do is tie into it,” he said.

The damage to the main line was the incentive to begin planning the backup line.

In November 2010, the Board of Mayor and Aldermen hired IMS Engineers of Jackson to perform the engineering for the project. At that time, the city received a $2.45 million 592 grant and the project was estimated at $3.29 million, with the city’s share projected to be $841,821.

There was little action by city officials on the project after IMS’ hiring until November 2013, when Flaggs called a meeting of IMS representatives and city, Corps and National Military Park officials. By that time, the three-year delay had caused the project’s cost to nearly double.

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.

EJES developed the new route down Washington Street, but because there were limited funds for the project, the board initially decided to split the project into two phases. The first phase connected part of the line to the water treatment plant.

The board in January canceled that plan after receiving news of the extra money.

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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