Gov. Phil Bryant on Tuesday declared a state of emergency, issuing a proclamation that orders the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) to immediately close 83 city and county bridges, a number that increased to 102 by the following day, that have been deemed deficient by federal National Bridge Inspection Standards and the Mississippi Office of State Aid Road Construction.
The announcement comes almost a week after the U.S. Department of Transportation notified the state that the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is concerned that the bridges remaining open represents an unacceptable safety risk requiring immediate action, the statement said.
The bridges expected to close are in Amite, Carroll, Clarke, Greene, Hinds, Humphreys, Itawamba, Jasper, Jones, Lauderdale, Leake, Lincoln, Newton, Pike, Smith and Wayne counties.
In a letter to Bryant dated April 5, the FHWA recommended 378 bridges for immediate closure. Those bridges derived from a March 2017 action plan formed by the administration, MDOT and the Office of State Aid Road Construction to address National Bridge Inspection Standards compliance issues concerning the proper inspection and closure of unsafe bridges. As late as last month, the federal administration’s Mississippi Division allowed many of the bridges deemed deficient to remain open to the public.
The bridges Bryant ordered closed will remain so until they are in compliance with federal and state laws, regulations and standards. The proclamation would apply to other bridges deemed deficient in the future, the statement said.
Source: Mississippi Today