Supervisors hope to get bridges fixed through state funding

Published 11:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2022

The Lincoln County Board of Supervisors has quite a few bridges to deal with since this county has one of the highest number of bridges in the state – 293 at last count.

That’s why they had great interest when the Mississippi Legislature established the Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund (ERBRF) in 2018 “to revitalize public roads and bridges across the state” with $250 million in funding. The key criteria included safety, restoring commerce and economic vitality and address mobility and accessibility on public roadways.

Though County Engineer Ryan Holmes submitted the information requested, the state has now opened up the process again, which means government entities can resubmit their bridge listing as is or edit their initial submission to include or eliminate bridges from the list. Holmes is now busy preparing an updated list for Lincoln County.

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The state’s website reported that “based on the success of the program, the Mississippi Legislature subsequently earmarked an additional $89 million of Highway Infrastructure Program funds received by MDOT pursuant to the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 and provided $100 million in 2022 for the Emergency Road & Bridge Repair Program. In accordance with Miss. Code Ann. § 65-1-179 and rules and regulations established by the Department, MDOT will administer the Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund for emergency repairs to public roads and bridges.”

According to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) National Bridge Inventory (NBI), as of Jan. 3 of the 16,788 bridges in the state, 1,174, or 7.0 percent, are classified as structurally deficient, which means one of the key elements is in poor or worse condition. This is down from 1,432 bridges classified as structurally deficient in 2017. Read Mississippi Bridge stats 5.2.22 to get information by the numbers.

In the nation, Mississippi is 23rd in the percent of structurally deficient bridges, says the National Bridge Inventory. Mississippi was 15th in 2020.

“A total of 97.3 percent of the structurally deficient bridges are not on the National Highway System, which includes the interstate and other key roads linking major airports, ports, rail and truck terminals,” the report stated. It further added that “the state has identified needed repairs on 7,357 bridges at an estimated cost of $2.4 billion….”

The first go ’round, the state received $1 billion worth of applications, Holmes said. On Monday, he asked supervisors what they wanted to do, and the answer was add them all.

Therefore, Holmes is busy working on the process of listing every bridge needing work or replacement, especially concerning bridges on Bethel and Pleasant Ridge roads. He said one of the main issues is “to get closed bridges back open,” a major focus of the state.

Holmes said the closed bridge at North Jackson has been covered by the city of Brookhaven’s application, so there was no need to add it to the county’s list. District 3’s supervisor, Nolan Williamson, noted that a bridge on Bethel Road needed straightening for safety’s sake. “It needs to have that curve smoothed out,” he said, using his hands to demonstrate.

Holmes said that a bridge on Old Highway 51 just lacks the railroad’s right of entry paperwork before work can begin.

In other news, supervisors also discussed the following:

  • approved Tax Assessor Blake Pickering’s request to without tags from those owing taxes
  • approved a $2,010.22 refund to a company for a homeowner’s payment not recorded
  • approved asking trash companies to remind customers that trash cans remain with the property and shouldn’t be taken to wherever a person may move
  • acknowledged Holmes’ updates about work on Mt. Olive Rd, county wide paving, the Brignell project and the courthouse roof repair (all are going forward)
  • acknowledged the ongoing work on the Chancery clerk’s office and the courthouse pressure washing
  • Home Grant projects are now four, instead of five
  • approved CDBG cash request and payment of invoices to Sample, Hicks & Associates and Dungan Engineering for the AITX Railspur Project
  • approved inventory control sheets
  • approved the application for ad valorem tax exemption of Rex Lumber
  • approved culvert installation for districts 3 and 4
  • reported the intention of Brookhaven School District’s repair or maintaince of a school bus turnaround for Karen Brooks
  • approved a school bus turnaround for Debbie Nations in District 3 and Melissa Bowman in District 5
  • approved District 3’s Nolan Williamson’s account of getting off of the county right of way to protect the integrity of the road way and ditch area by removing some water from the road