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One Hinds County bridge on closure list despite excellent sufficiency rating

CLOSED: Gov. Phil Bryant issued an emergency proclamation that will close 106 bridges statewide Tuesday. Photo by the Mississippi Department of Transportation

A list of 106 bridges that are to be closed after Gov. Phil Bryant issued an emergency proclamation containing 21 locally-owned bridges listed in good, fair or satisfactory structural condition.

The federal government uses a 0 to 100 system to rate the sufficiency of bridges. The measure is based 55 percent on the structural evaluation, 30 percent on the obsolescence of its design and 15 percent of its importance to the traveling public.

A bridge with a score of 80 or less can be eligible for federal funds for repair and a score of 50 or less can be eligible for replacement with federal funds.

So a bridge like the 20 others on the list can be listed as being in good, fair or satisfactory condition structurally and can still be a candidate for replacement since the design might not have enough lanes to handle the traffic flow, a lack of shoulders or not enough clearance for taller vehicles.

BOND: A bond bill with $50 million to repair or replace deficient bridges is on Gov. Phil Bryant's desk after being passed by the Legislature. Photo by the Mississippi Department of Transportation

Here are a few of the bridges on the list in at least fair condition:

  • A bridge in Amite County over Berry Creek was given a 74.8 rating in its last inspection on November 16.

  • In Hinds County, a concrete bridge carrying Reedtown Road over a branch of White Oak Creek is listed on the closure list despite getting an 84.8 out of 100 sufficiency rating on its last inspection on October 17. The bridge is listed by the state as having no restrictions and was built in 1981.

  • In Hinds County, a bridge that carries Beasley Road over Hanging Moss Creek is on the closure list and is rated at a 8.9 sufficiency rating despite having good structural ratings from its most recent inspection on December 17. The bridge carries 7,800 cars per day and was built in 1989.

  • A bridge that carries Masonite Lake Road over Mill Creek in Jones County received at least a fair rating structurally in all measures, but its sufficiency rating was only a 36.7. It was built in 1974.

The average age of the bridges on the list is 45 years old and many are low traffic bridges. Only seven on the list have 1,000 or more vehicles use them in a 24-hour period, which equates to about 41 cars per hour. The oldest bridge on the list is in Jones County and was built in 1937, one of six bridges built in 1958 or earlier.

There are 10,783 local bridges in the state and 542 are listed as closed, with 1,727 posted with weight restrictions.

The Federal Highway Administration Mississippi Division Office began working with the Mississippi Department of Transportation in 2016 to inspect and evaluate bridges considered to be in the worst condition to ensure their safety. In March 2017, the federal government developed an action plan with MDOT and the Office of State Aid Road Construction to address issues with bridge inspection and the closure of unsafe bridges. One of the main planks in the plan was to have local timber bridges statewide inspected by independent consultants.

During the week of March 19, the Federal Highway Administration determined that many of the deficient bridges were still open to travel. Last week, the U.S. Department of Transportation sent the state a letter that said the state has to close its deficient bridges or face the possible loss of federal highway funds.

The governor could call a special session of the Legislature to address the infrastructure issues.

A plan passed by the Senate died in conference with the House before the end of the session. The governor has yet to sign into law a bond bill that would borrow $50 million for replacement or repair of deficient county bridges.

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