Bridge Safety in Mississippi

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

Three U.S. Navy divers are volunteering to help in the search for the missing bodies of two people killed Saturday in a bridge collapse in Wayne County, according to Congressman Gene Taylor's office.

The divers are from the Stennis Ocean-O-Graphic Center in Hancock County. The bridge collapsed over the Chicasay River Saturday morning, killing three.

Counties all around the state, including Lauderdale, have problems with aging bridges.

Lauderdale County engineer Neal Carson said Lauderdale County has 305 bridges. Fifty-one of them are considered critical component bridges and are inspected annually. The others are inspected every two years by outside experts.

"They'll be done by the state aid engineer," said Carson. "He has a criteria set up and he has inspectors that go out and they go under, over, around, through. They actually drill holes in the pilings. They check everything about the bridge to see how it stands up structurally.

Two bridges are being replaced right now and others are on Carson's wish list.

"One on Liberty Church road, plans are to replace it, advertising for its components and also a bridge south of the four-way stop at Causeyville, the little narrow bridge, one lane bridge," said Carson.

"Of course, I'd like to see us replace some bridges, the bridge on Bronson Road and Stuckey Bridge Road, but financially we're going to have to wait for those."

Bridge collapses are not unknown in Lauderdale County.

"We had one collapse out on old 8th Street Road toward the soccer complex," said the engineer. "Had one collapse on Lizelia Road close to Stennis Drive. Fortunately, we had a little warning on both of those. Had the bridges closed before they fell in."

To build a new bridge costs about $125,000, if the county contracts for the work. If it can be done with county work crews, the cost runs from $80,000 to $90,000.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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