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Test to allow nighttime pedestrian traffic on Washington Street may begin this weekend

The city of Vicksburg is considering blocking off a portion of Washington Street this weekend to allow more pedestrian traffic in downtown Vicksburg.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said Monday at a special called meeting of the Board of Mayor and Aldermen that Washington Street between South and Clay streets will be closed off Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday for the Labor Day weekend and the next weekend as a trial to determine the feasibility of the plan.

The street closure was not on the agenda for the meeting. Flaggs announced the plan near the close of the meeting, saying the test period would be discussed at another special called meeting Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. before the board’s 5:30 p.m. public hearing on the city’s fiscal 2021 budget.

If approved, temporary roadblocks would be placed on Washington Street, blocking access to vehicles from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. The barricades will be removed each morning at 7.

Flaggs said Monday he met previously with City Attorney Nancy  Thomas, Public Works Director Garnet Van Norman, Community Development Director Jeff Richardson and members of the city’s traffic department about closing Washington Street.

“We believe that we can make downtown work as walking, pedestrian-only from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” he said. “We believe we can make it work. Labor Day is a big weekend and it’s coming this weekend and we want to try it this week and next week. That’s where you can walk the streets of Vicksburg from restaurant to restaurant benefitting from the leisure district from those times and there will be no vehicles on the street.”

He said the 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. time period was set to eliminate overtime by the city workers who have to remove and replace the barricades.

The board in October 2017 approved an ordinance establishing a leisure and recreation district allowing customers to buy their favorite alcoholic beverage at a restaurant or club in an area known as the “Washington Street District” and take it with them when they leave or sit at an outside table at the business to enjoy their drink.

The district runs the length of Washington Street from 100 North Washington St., south to Veto Street and including Mulberry Street and a section of Madison Street.

On Aug. 3, Flaggs discussed closing portions of downtown, on Washington Street, between Clay Street and South Street, to allow businesses in the city’s leisure and recreation district to expand outdoor seating and entertainment areas. At the same time, the board authorized Thomas to prepare a letter to the Department of Revenue supporting the sidewalk tables at restaurants for the sale of alcoholic beverages inside the leisure district.

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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