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County wins grant for bridge repair

A federal grant is on its way to pay for repairs to Mt. Olive Road Bridge, which would allow District 3 Supervisor Nolan Williamson to put money squared away for that shovel-ready project to be put on another bridge repair job in his district.

“While the work’s going on it’s going to be a headache, but when it’s over it will be nice,” Williamson said.

U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao, at a summit in Biloxi this week, announced $16.8 million in Competitive Highway Bridge Program grants to replace 12 bridges in Lincoln, Attala, Jefferson Davis, Marion, Tallahatchie, Walthall and Yalobusha counties.

In Southwest Mississippi, that means $6.66 million will be earmarked for eight bridges in Lincoln, Marion, Jefferson Davis and Walthall counties.

U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Brookhaven, joined U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo and U.S. Rep. Michael Guest, all Mississippi Republicans, in applauding the award which brings a total of $21 million for infrastructure improvements to Mississippi bridges and operating assistance for passenger rail.

Besides the bridge grants, Chao announced a $4.3 million Restoration and Enhancement grant for the Southern Rail Commission to support the return of passenger rail service from New Orleans, Louisiana, to Mobile, Alabama.

“The bridge program grants will allow us to begin chipping away at the backlog of bridge replacements needed in Mississippi,” Hyde-Smith said. “Economic growth and basic quality of life in our state require better infrastructure. We’ll keep working for additional appropriations specifically for bridge replacement and rehabilitation.”

Details on the grants have not come through the pipeline to Williamson or other Lincoln County supervisors.

“We don’t know the exact amount yet, but it is for Mt. Olive Road Bridge,” said County Engineer Ryan Holmes, a principal with Dungan Engineering.

The estimated cost for the bridge is $1.4 million.

“The plans are complete, right-of-way has been purchased, utilities has been adjusted and environmental has been completed. This is a shovel-ready project,” he said.

Mt. Olive met the eligibility requirements of the grant, Holmes said.