Friends of the Old Mississippi River Bridge request ARPA funds
Published 10:43 am Friday, October 15, 2021
Efforts in opening the Old Mississippi River Bridge to pedestrian traffic could continue with the help of American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) ARPA funding.
On Oct. 4, Linda Fondren and Buddy Dees, representatives from the Friends of the Old Mississippi River Bridge, submitted a proposal to the Warren County Board of Supervisors during one of six public meetings held to hear about potential transformational uses of ARPA funding to prevent or respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on the community.
The Friends of the Old Mississippi River Bridge is a citizen’s organization seeking to open the bridge for bicycle and pedestrian traffic year-round.
The Board of Supervisors are anticipating $8.8 million in total funding. Fondren said the group is requesting $100,000 from the Board of Supervisors to help retain attorneys to negotiate a path forward, and $1 million to go toward retrofitting the bridge for pedestrian traffic after plans are finalized.
Several years prior to the request from the Friends of the Old Mississippi River Bridge, the Warren County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution instructing the Vicksburg Bridge Commission to take action as it deemed reasonable and appropriate to open the 18-foot-wide roadway for daily pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The Bridge Commission decided that an engineering study to accommodate both railroad and pedestrian traffic was the next step in the process to address all safety concerns.
Since then there has been a merger or sale between Kansas City Southern Railroad and Canadian Pacific Railway, which Fondren said could allow an opportunity for the Board of Supervisors to address safely retrofitting the bridge to satisfy the new owners.
Fondren said the group’s mission for opening the bridge is to promote community health and wellness, history, economic development, and tourism of the Mississippi River, Vicksburg, Warren County, and the entire State of Mississippi.
Currently, events held on the bridge include the United Way Supper on the Sip, Bridging the Gap Mississippians with disabilities, Vicksburg Main Street’s Bricks and Spokes, the Southern Culture Heritage Foundation’s Over the River Run, and the Riverwalk Casino’s Bras for Breast Cancer. More than 250 people participated in the 2021 Over the River Run held last weekend.
“The county has to invest in various quality of life assets to attract new residents and build tomorrow’s workforce,” Fondren said. “Opening the bridge year-round can be a win-win for the county and the railroad, helping to develop this remarkable community asset.”