Sinkhole swallows part of post office lawn

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 20, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; A section of the city’s largest drainage canal &045; which drains much of north Natchez and the entire business district &045; collapsed Tuesday night due to age and runoff from heavy rains.

The collapse of the underground canal’s brick walls left a sinkhole that swallowed the sidewalk and part of the front lawn of the post office on North Canal Street. It also left city crews scrambling to clear debris blocking the canal and to make repairs.

A small sinkhole happened on March 8 in front of the post office as the result of a partial collapse in the same area. City crews then filled the hole with sand.

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The city sought Natural Resource Conservation Service emergency funds to repair the latest damage but were told Wednesday afternoon the project probably will not qualify, said City Engineer David Gardner.

&uot;We’re calling around now to see where we can locate a box culvert that we can just lift in there to take care of it,&uot; Gardner said.

&uot;But it’ll need to be done as soon as possible &045; and it’ll probably have to be done with local funds,&uot; Gardner said, adding that the Board of Aldermen could vote at a later date to ratify the expenditure. The repair could easily cost $50,000 to $70,000, he said.

Gardner said he has located a $7 million grant from the U.S. Corps of Engineers to make repairs and improvements to the canal, which was built in 1835, and the drainage system that feeds into it.

The catch &045; the city must put up 25 percent of that amount, or $1.75 million, as a match.

&uot;I’ve asked the Board (of Aldermen) if they’re willing to come up with that 25 percent or, if not, what figure they’d be willing to put up,&uot; Gardner said.

Meanwhile, both the city and Adams County have written to the NRCS to request emergency funding for specific erosion control projects as a result of long periods of rain in February and early March.

The city’s requested sites are located at or near 117 and 119 Woodville Drive, Frazier Primary School, Lower Woodville Road next to the Guido Building, Oak Ridge Manor Apartments, Brooklyn Apartments, Weir Court and North Bluebird Drive.

&uot;They (NRCS personnel) should bring the crew down on April 1 to review the sites with city (personnel) and determine whether they’re eligible for funding, and we should know something that day,&uot; Gardner said.

The city would be required to put up a 15 percent match for any grants received in addition to handling engineering and administration for the project.

The county has requested NRCS funds for projects on Cropp Lane, Sterling Road, North and South Sunflower, West Wilderness Road, Johnson Circle and Pineview and two sites on Cemetery Road.

A formal review of the sites by the NRCS &uot;could be in the next week or two, Š but they took a preliminary look this morning,&uot; Adams County Road Manager Bobby Powell said Wednesday.

The county would be required to put up a 25 percent match for any grants received.