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Pandemic has slowed efforts, but Friends of the Vicksburg Bridge are still pushing

An organization dedicated to permanently opening the road deck of the Old Mississippi River Bridge to pedestrians is continuing its efforts to get the bridge reopened, one of its members said.

“The Friends of the Vicksburg Bridge are still actively pursuing talks with the Warren County Board of Supervisors and the (Warren County) County Bridge Commission about the bridge and the status of where they are on the bridge,” Friends member Linda Fondren said.

She said, however, the COVID-19 virus and the precautions taken out of concern for the pandemic have set the organization’s activities back, “Because there’s not much you can do; there are more important things to deal with.

“It’s taken a back seat. People’s lives are at stake right now, and this is much more important than talking about the bridge,” Fondren said. “I think there are a lot more important issues right now.”

She said members are continuing to talk with the supervisors, who have discussed the bridge with the Kansas City Southern Railroad and the bridge commission about an engineering study to determine a way for trains and pedestrians to exist together on the bridge.

“Everything is still in conversation,” Fondren said. “I wish I really had some good news, but I do have hopeful news that I feel that we should be able to do this.”

She said the pandemic has brought out the potential importance of the bridge’s role in encouraging physical activity.

“Physical activity has been a problem before the pandemic,” she said. “This even makes it more so that we need to be active.”

Organized in 2018, the Friends of the Vicksburg Bridge have lobbied for the bridge to open permanently for pedestrian use — such as walking, running and biking — and not just for special events.

Presently, the bridge is open for special events such as Bricks and Spokes and the Over the River Run. In 2019, the bridge served as the setting for the Supper on the ’Sip, a United Way fundraiser where local chefs prepared dishes for participants.

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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