UPDATE: Please click here for a list of bridges the state says will require closure.
HATTIESBURG, MISS. - Governor Phil Bryant has signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency that orders the state to close 83 locally maintained bridges that have been judged deficient.
Bridges all over the state are targeted for closure by order of the federal government, but local governments have been hesitant to pull the plug. The feds are demanding action or the state could lose federal funding.
“The state has received a call from the U.S. Department of Transportation, Secretary Elaine Chao has talked with Governor Bryant, and said that the federal government just will not continue to send the federal highway dollars for our highways and our bridges until we are able to increase our investment in upgrading some of these bridges because some of them have been labeled as unsafe,” Mississippi’s State Senator, Joey Fillingane said.
Bridges in Mississippi must be capable of within holding the state's legal load, which is roughly above 80,000 pounds. Something bridges in numerous counties cannot do.
“Eight bridges have been closed in Greene County,” project engineer for Walker Associates, Jason Lamb said.
Also, another 27 bridges received a recommendation to be closed in Jones County.
“The list is fairly long,” Senator Fillingane said. “There are about one-hundred bridges that already received noticed to be shut down across the state, and I believe the U.S. Department of Transportation is looking at another fifty some odd more bridges to also be put on that list.”
Ultimately, prompting a special legislative session.
“I think the special session will be called in the next couple of weeks.” Senator Fillingane said. “We don't have a final word on when the governor is going to call for that specials session.”
Bridges slated for closure in the local area are located in Clarke, Greene, Jasper, Jones, Lauderdale, Smith, and Wayne counties. The proclamation says the bridges will remain closed until they are in compliance with federal and state laws.