More than 100 bridges closed across the state

Published 9:09 pm Saturday, March 4, 2017

JACKSON (AP) — Federal inspectors have closed more than 100 bridges in the past week, the chairman of the state Senate Highways and Transportation Committee said Friday.

All are on local roads, a state engineer said.

Sen. Willie Simmons’ announcement of the closures Friday came four days after Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves announced the death of a bill to raise transportation money through an Internet sales tax, The Clarion-Ledger reported.

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The Senate Finance Committee killed the bill by inaction when it didn’t bring the bill up for a vote before a Tuesday deadline for the bill to move forward. Reeves said he was concerned that the proposal was unconstitutional, and noted that other states including Alabama have been sued over such legislation.

A House bond bill that would let the state borrow $50 million for repairs is still alive.

The transportation department’s Office of State Aid Road Construction is working on a list of the closures, engineer Carey Webb said. His office, among other things, tells counties which bridges must be closed.

Webb said two teams went with federal inspectors to bridges with a substructure rating of two on a scale of zero to nine.  Some were closed on the spot, he said.

Simmons, D-Cleveland, told reporters after adjournment that Mississippi’s 3,000-plus deficient bridges could cost the state federal money if they’re not fixed.

On Wednesday prominent members of the state’s business community gathered in the Capitol’s rotunda to call for increased funding. The Mississippi Economic Council citing findings from a study conducted by the University of Southern Mississippi and Mississippi State University says that an additional $375 million a year is needed for highways and bridges.