Private Money Sought for Work at Vicksburg Canal

Thu February 01, 2007 - Southeast Edition
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VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) Warren County supervisors are turning to the private sector to come up with the last $500,000 needed to complete the Yazoo Diversion Canal widening project.

Another option may be a second extension of the bid by 4H Construction of Cleveland, Miss. The firm’s bid came in at $4.7 million in July, lowest of four submitted but still nearly $1 million more than the estimated work’s estimated cost. It was to have expired in December, but the company left the offer on the table until Jan. 20.

The rest of the money has been secured through appropriations from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, $1.5 million from Vicksburg through the Mississippi Development Authority and federal block grants. Warren County has supplied $164,168 through the port board.

Supervisors cited a less-than-expected amount of federal money from the corps as the chief reason for the latest delay and openly hoped for either they or the city to provide extra funds for the widening project, both of which are not likely.

“We don’t drive this wagon,” supervisor Richard George said. “All we’re doing is hanging on the tailgate hoping we don’t fall off.”

The 102-year-old canal was dug to restore a waterway at Vicksburg’s City Front after the Mississippi River changed course after the Civil War. It now connects the Port of Vicksburg and E.W. Haining Industrial Center to the Mississippi.

Increasing the width of the canal has been seen as vital to increase its capacity, thereby spurring the business at the county port.

Plans for the widening call for turning a 150-ft. (46 m) bottom width into a 250-ft. (76 m) bottom width from the junction with the Mississippi River to Glass Bayou and 200-ft. (61 m) bottom from there to the entrance to the harbor channel.

Officials began looking at widening the canal in the 1990s as tonnage moved to and from the Mississippi River gradually increased. Bulk materials moving through the port during August was reported by Kinder Morgan Bulk Terminals Inc. at 25,220 tons (22,800 t), up by nearly 6,000 tons (5,400 t) over July.

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