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Bridge repair hot topic for Lincoln County Board of Supervisors

Bridges in Lincoln County that are on the chopping block for repairs will get needed renovations with concrete rather than wood.

The cost per foot of material would be slightly higher, County Engineer Ryan Holmes told the Lincoln County Board of Supervisors Monday, but worth the investment long-term due to the added durability of the materials.

“If we don’t use all concrete,” Holmes said, “we’re at risk of having them posted.”

A posting is a warning that the bridge cannot handle the legal load for a bridge of that type and size. Holmes said all new bridges are “posted” at first, allowing time for the bridge to settle before it is load tested.

“It’s not the end of the world,” added Jeff Dungan, of Dungan Engineering where Holmes is employed. “But you may as well get the most for your money and get the best you can get.”

While some concrete caps and slabs are reusable, the greatest cost for repairs will come in purchasing needed new caps, said Holmes.

When District 1 Supervisor Jerry Wilson expressed concern over the possible closings of other bridges across the county, Dungan responded that nothing could be done at this point to stop closings because “that ship has sailed” — but plans needed to be in place for how to address repairs and replacements to get the county back where it needs to be once the period of federally-mandated bridge inspections has been completed.

“You guys are ahead of the game on this,” Dungan said. “You’ve got a good plan. You’ve got a way to address this.”

The current load and resistance factor design of the concrete components the county plans to use meets all federal standards, he said. The LRFD measures maximum stress loads for the bridges once installed.

Holmes said the bridge on Mt. Zion Road that was closed Friday can be repaired. The slab can be lifted and new pilings driven to replace the damaged ones.

“Once a contractor gets in there, it can be done in about two days,” Holmes said.

Lincoln County Emergency Management Director Clifford Galey and Lincoln County Sheriff Steve Rushing expressed concern that emergency vehicles need new routes to respond to fires and other emergencies in areas where bridges have been closed. Dungan responded that new regulations were coming in 2018 to limit passage of emergency vehicles over some bridges due to weight factors.

“If you think anything is ridiculous we’ve talked about this morning,” he said, “just wait until next year when we have to start adding emergency vehicles to these postings.”

In other business Monday, supervisors:

• Affirmed that Greenwood Road is a public road and will be maintained as such, after a resident in that area asked if the road was public or private. City attorney Bob Allen stated that the road was declared public in November 2003.

• Approved the appointment of Willie “Doc” Harrison to the Copiah-Lincoln Community College Board of Directors for a five-year term beginning Jan. 1.

• Entered a 15-minute executive session to discuss pending litigation. No action was taken.

The next regular board meeting will be Nov. 6 at the Lincoln County Government Complex.