JONES COUNTY, MISS. - Monday morning, Mississippi's Department of Transportation (M-DOT) started closing bridges in Jones County, and are expected close more bridges soon.
“It’s not a matter of if these bridges are going to fail, it's when are they going to fail,” M-DOT’s district 6 engineer, Kelly Castleberry said. “All the structures that we are shutting down today, imminent failure will occur.”
M-DOT received orders from Governor Phil Bryant to close 23 bridges in Jones County after the federal government labeled these bridges unsafe.
“Right now, the main issue is safety," Castleberry said. "That's the reason why we are out here. You’re able to go underneath these structures and see the pilling and shape that they are in… that is the main issue why we are out here today, trying close these structures down and keep the public off of them.”
The bridge closures forces many residents to seek alternative routes to reach their destination.
“It's a big inconvenience," Jones County resident, Erick Davis said. “We’re almost an hour late for work. We could've been at work about less than an hour ago, but we had to wait on the bridge and as you can see it's closed. So, maybe they can get it back together and fixed so, we don't have to worry about this.”
However, the timeline on fixing the bridges ultimately lies in the hands of the county’s supervisors.
“Shutting down the bridges gives the county’s board of supervisors a chance to come up with a plan to fix the structures, so they can get them back open,” Castleberry said. “There is a little bit of miscommunication. A lot of folks think these bridges will be shut down for a long time, but they don't necessarily have to be. A lot of the repairs can be made in two days to a week.”
Over the next few days, M-DOT will be closing over 100 bridges all over the state.