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MS Governor Orders 83 Bridges Closed

Monday, April 16, 2018

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Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency last week, ordering 83 locally owned bridges closed in response to a communication from the Federal Highway Administration indicating that many of the state’s bridges are deficient and constitute a safety hazard.

Bryant made the announcement Tuesday (April 10), closing bridges that have been ruled to be deficient in 16 counties. The bridges will reopen only when they "are in compliance with federal and state laws, regulations and standards," the proclamation says. The order to close also applies to any bridges to be declared deficient in the future, Bryant said.

Small Spans

A full list of the bridges was published by the Mississippi Office of State Aid Road Construction Wednesday; the spans are generally small bridges over creeks, canals or drains. MDOT tweeted Thursday that crews were in the process of shutting down a bridge over Harris Creek on Herren Road in Hinds County as part of the order.

According to the governor’s office, the order stems from a plan devised by the FHWA and MDOT to address deficient bridges in the state. The agencies began working together on the issue in November 2016, according to the new proclamation, and in March 2017, they devised a plan involving independent inspections of all local bridges with timber substructures.

This past March, the FHWA reported that many deficient bridges remained open in the state. The agency recommended to Bryant the closure of more than 300 bridges in early April; days later, he issued the declaration closing 83.

The new closures bring the total number of closed county and local bridges in the state to 542, according to the Office of State Aid Road Construction.

“These bridges have been deemed unsafe for the traveling public,” Bryant said in a statement. “Keeping them open constitutes an unnecessary risk to public safety, violates the corrective action plan agreed upon by the state and federal government and jeopardizes federal infrastructure funds Mississippi receives.”

Deficient Bridge Numbers

According to the 2017 National Bridge Inventory, 2,008 of Mississippi’s 17,072 bridges—11.8 percent—were deficient last year, with 1,432 listed as being in “poor” condition as of the end of the year. The state ranked 8th in terms of states with the most deficient bridges, and 12th in terms of percentage of total bridges considered to be deficient.


Tagged categories: Bridges; Department of Transportation (DOT); Federal Highway Administration (FHWA); Government; Infrastructure; Safety

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