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City approves closing three railroad crossings to advance riverfront development

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday approved closing three railroad crossings in the city as part of an agreement with the Kansas City Southern Railroad.

The board’s action closes two crossings on Haining Road at CAM2 and Ergon Refinery and on North Hutson Street by Travis Chapel Church. The crossing is in an area of Hutson Street that floods during heavy rains.

City Attorney Nancy Thomas said the closures are part of an agreement with KCS involving the city’s plans to improve the riverfront.

Under the agreement, the city and Kansas City Southern will exchange quitclaim deeds with the city giving the railroad its interest in the right of way for the railway bed, and KCS giving the city its interest in the waterfront property on the north and south sides of the Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Depot to install a pedestrian crosswalk on Levee Street.

The city will also install fencing, relocate the China Street floodgate crossing, and work will also be done to define the railroad/city boundaries south of the waterfront to the KCS yard.

“That’s a game-changer because that’s where the cruise ships are going to develop the waterfront,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said of the KCS agreement. He said Viking River Cruises, which is one of the cruise lines building a docking area, recently announced its Mississippi River cruises in 2022 are sold out.

 In April 2019, the city of Vicksburg signed a letter of intent with Viking USA LLC to lease a section of the city’s riverfront to the cruise line to dock its cruise boats.

In the agreement, Viking would construct a docking facility for its vessels and then pay the city of Vicksburg $1 per passenger. The proposed agreement would be for 20 years with a 5-year extension.

In February, the board and American Cruise Lines agreed to a 20-year lease involving a portion of the city’s waterfront to allow the company to build a dock for its boats visiting Vicksburg.

The board approved the agreement at a special called meeting and American secured the lease with a $5,000 down payment that was delivered Thursday morning to the city. The lease includes an optional five-year extension.

American is the first river cruise line to rent space along Vicksburg‘s waterfront for docking space. Viking Cruises, which plans to have cruises on the Mississippi River, has also expressed an interest in space on the waterfront for its boats.

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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