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County updates Bogue Chitto bridge

NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / Construction workers work to align the one of five 100 ft. beams during construction on the bridge on Big Creek Road Thursday, Feb. 19. The bridge is scheduled to be open late spring, early summer.

NATHANIEL WEATHERSBY / Construction workers work to align the one of five 100 ft. beams during construction on the bridge on Big Creek Road Thursday, Feb. 19. The bridge is scheduled to be open late spring, early summer.

A timber bridge in Bogue Chitto deemed unsafe for school bus traffic is currently being reconstructed and is scheduled to open by early summer.

Dungan Engineering Principal Ryan Holmes said the bridge on Big Creek Road was built 23 years ago and is one of many bridges in the county that are made of timber or a timber and concrete mix. Holmes said there are more than 300 bridges in Lincoln County and through yearly inspections each bridge is given a rating with 100 being the best and anything below 50 qualifying for an upgrade.

“It wasn’t at a point where it was critical, but we were getting concerned,” Holmes said about the bridge that received a rating of 39. He said the bridge had not been shut down. The project is fixing a worse problem before it came up. He said the new bridge will be 180 feet long and will be made from pre-cast concrete beams with a concrete deck poured on-site.

Holmes said they look at every aspect of the bridge when rating them. He said that pictures are taken from the same point every year to track changes in conditions, and Lincoln County Supervisors are aware of the condition of bridges in their districts.

The 180-foot bridge under construction is in Supervisor Eddie Brown’s District 4. Brown said the bridge’s rating put it at a 10,000-pound limit meaning that a school bus – which requires a 30,000-pound limit – should not cross it.

The state’s Local System Bridge Program is funding the project, which Holmes said will cost $580,000.

“The county bridge maintenance funds wouldn’t cover the cost of the project,” Brown said. “The program allows for state-aid money to be spent on local roads that aren’t state-aid roads.”

Holmes said the project has been in the planning process for two years, but he estimates the project to be completed in late spring to early summer of this year. Brown said there is no special detour around the construction site; travelers will be taking many of the other county rounds to their destination.