After more than three years, connector road reopens

VICKSBURG — After more than three years and $8.6 million, a main corridor between downtown Vicksburg and Interstate 20 is about to reopen.

The 82-year-old bridge that ran along the Mississippi River was closed in early 2009 because of river bank erosion. Now it’s a road on top of a tunnel over railroad tracks, and the reopening ceremony is scheduled Monday.

Business owners still open on the street nearest the connector’s downtown end hope the opening signals better days, The Vicksburg Post reported.

“Wonderful,” said Hardy Katzenmeyer, who owns Katzenmeyer’s Antiques and Pet Shop. “We’ve been waiting three years. We’re thrilled. I went to look at it the other day. It’s practically done, and it’s a good-looking bridge, too. I’ll save gas, because now I can come straight in. I won’t have to detour and go around.”

In early 2010, authorities approved a contract with Kansas City Southern Railway, which owns the tracks, and Kanza Construction Co., of Topeka, Kan., to replace the bridge with the tunnel and road.

KCS was the prime contractor and Kanza was the subcontractor. The railroad’s construction contract was for up to $7.9 million. TransSystems, the project engineer, received another $700,000 to design the project and have an onsite inspector.

“We’ve been watching the work for three years, ever since we moved into this house. It’s been like being on a dead end street,” Diane Lutz said.

She and her parents, Bradley and Sharon Lutz, live next door to each other.

“We are so excited,” Sharon Lutz said. “It’s going to be an asset to Vicksburg and tourism. Now we’ll be able to get out and clean our yard, cut the grass and plant flowers.”

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