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Lincoln County supervisors ready for bridge funds

Lincoln County supervisors signed paperwork Monday to accept nearly $3.5 million in emergency funds to replace or repair four bridges, while taking a “wait-and-see” stance on a fifth.

Nearly $5 million was allotted to Lincoln County through the Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund for the replacement or repair of bridges on Arlington Drive SW ($1,557,846), Lott Smith Road NW ($767,391.60), Summers Lane ($506,864) and Maple Lane SW ($727,692). County engineer Ryan Holmes suggested waiting to sign the memorandum of understanding for the $1,358,289 alloted for Mt. Olive Road until mid-March since Mississippi Department of Transportation has also applied for federal grants that could pay for that project.

“MDOT asked us before this emergency money came out to go in on an application with them. They were trying for a partial project across the state,” Holmes said. “Since this project was shovel-ready, they asked us to put that in our application to help their application on their bridges on state highways.”

Holmes told supervisors that the plans for Mt. Olive Road have been approved and the rights-of-way acquired.

“It’s been sitting on the shelf for two years,” he said.

Holmes anticipates that if MDOT gets the funding for their projects — which includes Mt. Olive Road — then Lincoln County will be able to use that $1.4 million for other projects.

District 4 Supervisor Eddie Brown stressed that if MDOT can pay for the Mt. Olive project, he wants the allotment to stay in Lincoln County to be used for other bridges that need repair.

“It’s done been allocated to Lincoln County, it needs to stay in Lincoln County,” Brown said.

Holmes said Lincoln County fared well in the funding process.

“I looked at the list and there is no county that got more, the number. There’s some that got one and some that got none,” he said. “These will be brand new bridges. These are going to be superior bridges.”

The funding is part of $250 million announced by the Mississippi Transportation Commission in January.

Statewide, the approved projects will repair or replace 200 bridges, including 99 that are currently closed and another 91 that have posted weight restrictions.

City and county governments received $213 million for projects on local roads. The Mississippi Department of Transportation received $37 million for projects on the state highway network.

The Transportation Commission unanimously approved the selected projects from a pool of 690 applications totaling nearly $1 billion, Commissioner Mike Tagert, Northern Transportation District, said in January.

The Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund was created by the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2018, which was signed into law during the 2018 Special Legislative Session. It authorized issuance of up to $250 million in bonds to repair public roads and bridges in the state.

Many of the closures are bridges with timber substructures, and Lincoln County — having the second-highest amount of timber bridges in the state — was particularity hard-hit by inspections. Lincoln County supervisors diverted a $5 million bond intended for paving improvements to bridge work and have replaced, repaired or programmed fixes for dozens of bridges.