‘A long time coming’: City signs contract to begin North Washington Street changes

Published 3:28 pm Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Work could soon begin on a project to rehabilitate North Washington Street from Grove Street to the Port of Vicksburg entrance at Haining Road.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen on Monday authorized Mayor George Flags Jr. to sign a contract with A. J. Construction of Madison to begin the project.

The company was the low bidder on the project with a bid of $1,222,747, which was within the estimated project budget of more than $1.2 million. Also submitting bids were APAC of Mississippi, which bid $1,340,492, and Central Asphalt of Vicksburg, which bid $1,388,543.

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Plans for the rehabilitation project include repaving North Washington Street starting at Grove Street and reducing it to two lanes with a catch basin for mudslides and a bicycle lane. The bicycle lane will be part of a proposed estimated 9.5-mile bicycle trail through Vicksburg that will follow a path from the Mississippi Welcome Center on Washington Street to its terminus at Haining Road.

The rehabilitation project is funded by money from an $11 million loan the city made for capital improvements. That loan is being repaid with revenue from the city’s share of state sales taxes on purchases made through the Internet.

A starting date for the project has not been set. Flaggs said the contractors have to secure bonding and set up equipment.  “It’s a long time coming,” he said of the project. “I think this will not only improve the access to the city from the north, but it will help public safety because we’ll be able to slow some of those speeders down.”

As a four-lane road, North Washington was encouraging more people to speed, Flaggs said. By reducing traffic to two lanes, the city “will be able to shut (the speeding) down,” he said. “Over the years in my life, we’ve had a lot of deaths on that highway.”

Flaggs also said the board would consider reducing the speed limit, although it has not taking any action on doing so. Presently, the speed limit on North Washington to Haining Road is 45 mph and 35 mph from Haining Road to U.S. 61.

Besides reducing speeders, the mayor said, the project will allow the city to improve drainage and slide problems on the east side of the road.

The bicycle route includes a tour through Vicksburg’s downtown that will follow the city’s downtown walking trails. From Haining Road, cyclists can continue to U.S. 61 North and catch the Great River Road Bike Trail that runs from Walls in DeSoto County to Tunica.

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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