Vicksburg, MS (WLBT) - The fight continues to permanently open a well-known bridge in Vicksburg.
The Old Mississippi River Bridge - also known as the Highway 80 bridge - closed in 1998. It’s now used for recreation and special events for certain times of the year.
The Friends of the Old Mississippi River Bridge want residents and visitors to enjoy the bridge year-round. They say the fight has not been easy, but they are making progress.
“The biggest progress we have made is the Warren County Board of Supervisors passing a resolution to have the bridge commission look at what it takes to open up the bridge," said group member Linda Fondren. “That was an important step, and we are thankful for that.”
The bridge, which was closed for repairs to the road deck, stretches from Delta, Louisiana to Vicksburg.
Fondren says her team began their bridge push by getting more than 1,200 hundred people to sign a petition last year. Since then, the citizen’s group has collected three signed resolutions of support from Vicksburg, Madison Parish and Delta, Louisiana.
“We also got an attorney general’s opinion,” said Fondren.
Vicksburg officials say there is one rail-line connected to the bridge and the railroad has a lease on the bridge. Fondren says the next step is to meet with railroad officials to hopefully get them on board with the proposed project.
“It is already being used. We just need it to be open year-round so we can enjoy the beautiful Mississippi River and it is one of the best views in all of Warren County,” said Fondren.
Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs agrees and points out that safety and funding are also issues they are working through to make the dream a reality.
“What we are trying to do is get the railroad company to understand it is imperative that we open it daily for recreation and tourism," said Mayor Flaggs. “I believe if we open this bridge up for pedestrians and recreation, this will be a game changer for us and the city of Vicksburg as it relates to tourism.”