Road damage assessments continue, cost estimates are next

Published 12:26 pm Monday, March 2, 2020

William Banks, the long-serving member of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, cannot remember a time this many roads have been closed or impacted by water, erosion and damage.

With the threat of additional rain and severe weather forecasted for this week, the current list of 73 sites of damage and drainage in the county could grow.

During Monday’s meeting of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, County Engineer Keith O’Keefe said the assessment of 73 sites has been completed, but the worst of those — totaling 29 — is getting another review.

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“We looked at the first 29 in the first two or three days, those were the most severe,” he said. “Did some cost-estimates for [Warren County Emergency Management Director] John Elfer’s group so they could file some documentation with FEMA.

“We are going back and looking at those sites a little more in detail and actually doing some quantity development to help us with cost estimates,” he said. “We are actually using drones to do that. Some of these sites are 60-, 80- to 100 feet deep. Using a drone allows us to get down low without having to put a man down the slippery slopes as you will.”

O’Keefe said the use of drones speeds up the process, which would allow him and his team to get a better handle on the overall costs and wrap up a report for supervisors.

“We are working on a report that we will submit to you in two weeks that will wrap all of this up in terms of cost estimates and hopefully some prioritization that we can discuss and work through,” he said.

In addition to determining the costs of repairs, the evaluations would also allow O’Keefe and County Road Manager Larry Flowers to determine which sites could be repaired in part or in all by county crews.

Last month, the county has approved an emergency declaration because of the damage to the roads caused by the more than 23 inches of rain the county has received thus far in 2020.

In an update to supervisors last week, O’Keefe said the slide problem on Redwood Road could cost more than $1 million to repair. Redwood Road is presently closed because of the major landslide.

In that update, O’Keefe also showed photos of damaged areas on Gowalt Road and Old Jackson Road.

O’Keefe suggested the county should apply for disaster funds from the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The NRCS, he said, can provide grants for work in the county on a basis of 75/25, with the NRCS paying 75 percent of the project cost and the county 25 percent.

About Tim Reeves

Tim Reeves, and his wife Stephanie, are the parents of three children, Sarah Cameron, Clayton and Fin, who all attend school in the Vicksburg Warren School District. The family are members of First Baptist Church Vicksburg. Tim is involved in a number of civic and volunteer organizations including the United Way of West Central Mississippi and serves on the City of Vicksburg's Riverfront Redevelopment Committee.

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