• 63°

County to give money to city for Kemp Bottom Road bridge project

Warren County is contributing more than $200,000 to help the city replace the Kemp Bottom Road bridge that collapsed in 2017.

The Board of Supervisors Tuesday approved using $216,818 in leftover state LSBP bridge funds to help the city of Vicksburg make up the difference in the project’s budget and the actual cost of replacing the span.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Dec. 7 accepted a $3.44 million bid of T.L. Wallace Construction of Columbia to replace the previous bridge that spanned Hennessey Bayou.

The bid was more than $200,000 over the project’s estimated $3.21 million budget in state emergency bridge repair funds allocated for the project. Wallace’s bid was the lowest of three submitted on the project.

The board approved the contract with T.L. Wallace Tuesday.

LSBP stands for Local System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program, a Mississippi Department of Transportation Department program that provides money to help counties pay for bridge repairs and drainage work.

Because Warren County did not have any bridges that qualified for the LSBP funds, County Board Attorney Blake Teller said, the supervisors could, under the law, and with the state agent engineer’s approval, transfer excess LSBP funds to the city for the Kemp Bottom Road project.

District 2 Supervisor William Banks objected to moving the money.

“I’m not for giving our funds away,” Banks said.

District 3 Supervisor Shawn pointed out to Banks that parts of their districts include areas inside the city, adding “I’m amazed at how vehemently, Mr. Banks, you are against at helping District 2 and District 3 when you represent the city.”

“The Kemp Bottom Bridge project has been a priority for a few years as it represents an investment in business retention and recruitment for our community,” said Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership President and CEO Pablo Diaz.

“The bridge serves the main access road to Baxter Wilson, a crucial electrical infrastructure component of our community and the entire area,” he said. “The Vicksburg Warren Economic Development Partnership is excited to continue to see our local governments coordinating and working together on the common goal of economic development.”

The bridge, which crosses Hennessey’s Bayou, was closed by the city in July 2017 after erosion on the bayou’s west bank threatened the bridge. Several days after it was closed, the bridge collapsed.

The bridge collapse forced Entergy to build a second road to the power plant that exited off Warrenton Road and ran parallel to the Mississippi River.

Engineers said the problem with the bridge dated back to the 2011 spring Mississippi River flood, when the river crested on May 19, 2011, at 57.1 feet, 14.1 feet above flood stage and nine-tenths of a foot above the Great Flood of 1927.

Engineers said water entering Hennessy’s Bayou during the flood receded quickly and created the erosion problem that caused the bridge to collapse.

The city received $3.73 million in emergency road and bridge funds to pay for the design and construction of a new bridge and stabilize the erosion problem on Hennessey’s Bayou that caused the collapse.

The city also received $2.57 million in Natural Resource Conservation Service funds to help with the bank stabilization, which needed to be completed before the bridge could be replaced. The bank stabilization project was completed in December.

When the bridge project bids were opened Nov. 25, Flaggs said replacing the bridge is important to the city “because there’s a lot of undeveloped land back there.” He said the bridge would provide access to an estimated 600 acres of land or more along the Mississippi River for economic development.

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.

email author More by John