City of Vicksburg seeking HUD, U.S. DOT grants to address lead, update gas lines

Published 4:18 pm Friday, July 8, 2022

City officials are seeking a U.S. Housing and Urban Development grant to determine how many homes in the city may contain hazardous lead material.

The grant, known as the Lead and Healthy Homes Technical Studies Grant Program, is available through HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes. The application is not seeking funds at this time, Mayor George Flaggs said, pending the result of the inventory.

“What this grant does is allow you to do the study, then if you qualify, based on the number of houses, that’s when they will award the money,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said.

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He said the grant will provide money for residents to take steps to remove the lead materials.

The HUD grant is one of two the city is seeking. The board Friday also approved a resolution to apply for a Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization Grant through the U.S. Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.

City officials want to replace the city’s remaining steel gas lines with plastic lines and the board in June hired Allen & Hoshall engineers to assist with the grant application, which company representative Edwin Dedeaux said is a 100-percent grant and will not require a match from the city.

The amount of money the city is seeking is undetermined pending an inventory of the gas system, but Flaggs indicated one estimate put the cost of the project at $200 million.

“This is a Natural Gas Distribution Infrastructure Safety and Modernization grant program that is available for municipal and community natural gas systems for safety improvements in the system,” Dedeaux said at the time the engineers were hired.

According to a Department of Transportation website, money for the grant is provided through the bi-partisan infrastructure bill, which designated $200 million a year in grant funding with a total of $1 billion in grant funding over the next five years.

“The grant funding is to be made available to a municipality or community-owned utility — not including for-profit entities — to repair, rehabilitate or replace its natural gas distribution pipeline systems or portions thereof or to acquire equipment to reduce incidents and fatalities and avoid economic losses,” according to the website.

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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