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Bridge Work Continues

People driving through Highway 550 may have noticed some road work going on over the past few months.

     The project involves two new bridges being constructed by T.L. Wallace Construction of Columbia, who were contracted out by the Mississippi Department of Transportation to do the work, according to MDOT District Engineer Albert White. The work started on March 15 and is scheduled for completion on July 9, 2013.

     The total cost for both bridges comes in at $4,572,404, according to White. Funding for the projects comes solely from the state using general obligation bonds.

     White said the bridges are being replaced due their low ratings in the past and need to be stronger to match up with modern strains from heavy trucks.

     “They were what we call deficient, after they went below the rating threshold and they were scheduled to be replaced,” said White.

     White said the bridges were old and could not stand up to modern weights of trucks.

     District Five Supervisor Dudley Nations said the roadwork is a good sign in his district.

     “It’ll mean a lot to the district,” said Nations. “They’ll be wider than current bridges and the added safety they’ll provide will be a big help. With Highway 550 being a heavily traveled highway, this will mean a lot to this community.”

     White said the bridges will each be 44 feet in width, which is much wider than the current bridges, and will stronger as well.

     “They’ll have some shoulder to them, which is much better compared to the old bridges where you just had two lanes and your bridge rail,” he said.

     White said the bridges will be able to hold weights of 76,000 pounds plus, which shouldn’t come into play because Highway 550 is posted at just over 57,000 pounds.

     “The bridges are designed for more than that, so they’ll actually be able to hold more than the 76,000 pounds. “But Highway 550 is a low-weight road, so it’s not posted for that kind of load.”

     White said the project is fairly simple from a construction standpoint.

     “They’re just normal bridges that need to be replaced,” he said. “It’s not an emergency job, they just needed to be replaced.”

     One key component to travelers is the impact the work will have on their commutes, but White said the construction should not affect them much.

     “There will be very few effects on traffic during the construction,” he said. “You will still have both lanes open on most occasions, except when we’re tying the new portions of road in with the old road.”