Recreation On Old Mississippi River Bridge A Local Decision


VICKSBURG, Miss. (AP) — A local group can decide whether to let people walk or ride bicycles on the unused portion of a bridge that crosses the Mississippi River, according to a nonbinding legal opinion issued by the Mississippi attorney general's office.

Lawyers for the Vicksburg Bridge Commission and the Warren County Board of Supervisors sought advice from the state's top legal officer, The Vicksburg Post reported .

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Two bridges cross the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, connecting Mississippi and Louisiana. One that remains open is for the east-west Interstate 20. The older bridge has been closed to car and truck traffic for years, and Kansas City Railroad leases the part of it that has train tracks.

The question is whether an 18-foot-wide portion of unused highway can be used for recreation. It has been used for special events, and the railroad has opposed more frequent use of the structure.

"Pedestrian and bicycle traffic on public thoroughfares are legal unless specifically prohibited by statute or regulation," the attorney general's office wrote. The letter also says the commission is in charge of managing and controlling the old bridge, and commissioners are authorized to hire "nationally recognized engineers," as needed.

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County Attorney Blake Teller said he and bridge commission attorney Robert Bailess would likely contact Kansas City Railroad officials to discuss opening the bridge.

"What we'd like to do next is reach out to the railroad, sit down and discuss options to make this work as a joint effort," Teller said. "We'd prefer to work with the railroad."

The newspaper was unable to immediately reach a railroad spokesman.

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