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Long-awaited Bogue Chitto bridge project begins; will take two years

BOGUE CHITTO — The dust and love bugs are flying outsideJanie’s Whistlestop near where construction crews have begun workon a new $2.6 million bridge project on Bogue Chitto Road.

Inside the convenience store-cafe, customer response to theproject has been positive, said Myrtle Stogner, whose son Keith andhis wife Janie have operated the business since May.

“A lot of them are just wondering what’s going on,” Stognersaid. “I haven’t heard any negative about it.”

Bogue Chitto resident Ralph Hodges, while dining with a friendThursday afternoon, offered approval of the project.

“I’m glad to see it going in,” said Hodges, who lives near thecrossing but will not be affected by an upcoming road closure.

Alvin Freeman, foreman for Mid-South Construction, said asection of Bogue Chitto Road will be closed completely Mondaymorning as the bridge project moved forward. The road will beclosed from Monticello Street in Bogue Chitto to Ironwood Lane,which connects with Pricedale Road.

“Come Monday morning, nobody’s going to be able to get through,”Freeman said.

Freeman said the road would be closed periodically startingFriday as crews clear debris and do other bridge-related work. Hesaid the road will be open for school bus traffic Fridayafternoon.

“We’ll work with everybody getting through in the meantime,”Freeman said.

Freeman said the bridge project will take at least two years,although the road could be reopened sooner.

District 3 Supervisor Nolan Earl Williamson said schooltransportation and volunteer fire department officials had beenmade aware of the upcoming road closure.

Williamson said the road closure will mean a detour of severalmiles. He mentioned alternate routes to Hog Chain Road at Thayer’sCrossing and to Fox Road at Norfield.

For Janie’s, the closure will reduce traffic flow by thebusiness. Stogner, however, is taking the bridge project instride.

“They tell us our customers will have access to us here, so wehaven’t really worried about it,” Stogner said.

The new bridge, being funds with 100 percent federal bridgereplacement money, has been a long-awaited project, Williamsonsaid.

“The county’s been after it for 22 years or better,” Williamsonsaid. “I’m glad to get it, but I’m sorry for the inconvenience it’sgoing to cause people.”

Williamson said the bridge project is the largest one everundertaken by the county. The reason, he said, is it involvesreplacing three bridges over the railroad, Beaver Creek and theBogue Chitto River.

In Bogue Chitto, Williamson said the new bridge will improvesafety by straigthening out the crossing over the railroad. Thesupervisor said he anticipated the railroad removing the bridgeonce the new one is completed.

Williamson said the project could not be put off any longer. Thesupports under some of the bridges are deteriorating, thesupervisor said, and citizens have expressed concerns about therailroad bridge’s condition for a number of years.

Like customers in the cafe, where he met with Freeman Thursday,Williamson said he has heard positive comments about the bridge.However, he expected some mixed feelings once the road is closed anextended time.

“Everybody’s happy, but they’re going to hate theinconvenience,” Williamson said. “I understand that. It’s going tobe hard on the schools, on the working people and one mommas anddaddies when they transport their kids to grandma’s.”