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Auxiliary waterline project to begin in January

Hemphill Construction Co. is expected to start work on the city’s auxiliary waterline the first part of January, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

Flaggs said he met last week with a representative for the Florence-based contractor, adding the representative said he expected to complete the project in six months.

“He is in the process of getting his equipment together,” Flaggs said.

Hemphill’s $5.030 million bid was the lowest of five bids submitted for the project and less than its estimated $6 million cost.

The auxiliary waterline will 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.

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

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

Flaggs on July 12 signed an agreement 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 project. The city’s share of the project cost is $1.5 million.

Discussion about an auxiliary waterline began when the city’s main waterline was damaged during excavation for the Lower River Museum and Interpretive Center.

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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