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County approves bridge projects totaling nearly $3 million

According to reports from Governor Phil Bryant, much of Mississippi’s infrastructure is in ill repair, and Lafayette County’ bridges are not immune.

The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors on Thursday accepted a $2.4 million bid from N.L. Carson Construction Company for the replacement of three bridges on County Road 100, off Old Sardis Road. The project is funded in part by a Federal Land Access Program grant of $1.6 million, but the supervisors will still need to muster up approximately $1.1 million to fully fund the replacements.

The bridges in question are numbers 35, 58 and 60. According to county engineer Larry Britt, the funds from the supervisors will go toward covering engineering costs and contingencies, in addition to matching funds awarded by the grant. The bridges were chosen, Britt said, because of their sufficiency ratings.

“All three bridges have sufficiency ratings that are lower than the standards we go by today, so they’ve been on the list to be replaced,” Britt said. “We had to have some outside money in order to do that, so we applied for the grant.”

Two of the bridges are larger, and one is relatively small, but all three feature concrete roadways atop timber piling. One bridge has also been reduced from two lanes of traffic to one lane, although Britt said he’d made an effort to get that changed.

The decision to completely replace the bridges is one that will lead to greater longevity, Britt said.

“The major problem with these bridges is, they’re concrete bridges but they have timber piling under them. If we have issues with the piling, it’s hard to just replace that,” Britt said. “So the idea was, instead of continuing to maintain them by patching them, we’d just replace them. They’ll be concrete bridges with concrete piling under them. I imagine they’ve got a life expectancy of 40 to 50 years.”

It will take about a month to complete paperwork with the contractor, Britt said. Once that is complete, construction will last for approximately one year for all three bridges.

Although Lafayette County was not directly named on the governor’s list of more than 100 “dangerous bridges” in April, the county has made minor repairs on some bridges to help maintain adequate sufficiency ratings.

Road crews have already repaired the following: bridge 159 on County Road 369 near Douglas Lake, bridge 164 on County Road 424 and bridge 165 on County Road 381, both near Paris community, among others. Lafayette County has a total of 150 bridges to maintain, either through its own funding or federal or state funds.

“This ties into a statewide infrastructure and safety issue,” District 1 Supervisor Kevin Frye said.

At the time of the Thursday meeting, it was not specified where the supervisors would obtain the $1.1 million.