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Project to replace Kemp Bottom Road bridge moves forward

A Columbia contractor has been awarded the bid to replace the Kemp Bottom Road bridge that collapsed in 2017.

The Board of Mayor and Board of Aldermen Monday accepted the $3.45 million bid of T.L. Wallace Construction of Columbia to replace the previous bridge that spanned Hennessey Bayou.

Wallace’s bid was the lowest of three submitted for the project. All were over the project’s estimated $3.21 million cost.

Submitting bids were Phillips Construction of Columbus, $3.99 million; and Key Constructors LLC of Madison, $3.47 million.

Wallace’s bid, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said, is about $217,000 over the project estimate.

“We’ve got to go through with this project because it is very important to Vicksburg,” Flaggs said. He said he would be looking at some potential options, adding the board may approve going into the city’s $3 million reserve fund to pay for the work and reimburse the fund later.

Kemp Bottom Road is the main access to Entergy’s Baxter Wilson power plant. The bridge, which crosses Hennessey 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.

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 bridge’s collapse.

The city also received Natural Resource Conservation Service funds to help with the bank stabilization, which needed to be completed before the bridge could be replaced. The project has been completed.

When the 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.

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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