City receives $1.2 million for emergency bluff stabilization project

Published 7:35 pm Tuesday, May 11, 2021

NATCHEZ — The City of Natchez has been allocated $1.2 million in federal funds to address an emergent need for erosion repairs on Cemetery Road.

Natchez Mayor Dan Gibson said a slough near Weymouth Hall has carved a “canyon” yards away from Cemetery Road, putting the property and road in danger of falling into the river.

The project had previously been approved by the Natural Resources Conservation Service for the Emergency Watershed Program funds last year. However, after inclement weather events in recent months, the situation there has worsened, he said.

The estimated cost of the project increased from $115,000 to approximately $455,600, Engineer Hayden Kaiser told the Natchez Mayor and Board of Aldermen during their April board meeting.

Since then Gibson said the city reached out Mississippi legislators and lobbyist Greg Harper about the project to find emergency help.

“We have received federal approval for $1.2 million,” Gibson said. “Never in history has an award this large been made in such a quick time period.”

Gibson said the city’s contribution would be approximately $400,000, which is in the city’s budget thanks to at $300,000 reimbursement for COVID-19 expenses issued by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency that officials set aside.

“Praise God, we have the funds,” Gibson said.

An emergency project was approved unanimously by the board on Tuesday.

A declaration of emergency would allow officials to move forward with the project immediately with G. Rayborn Contractors without seeking other bids.

Gibson said equipment could be on site as early as Thursday.