Replacing bridges is a long process but Mississippi has more tha - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Replacing bridges is a long process but Mississippi has more than 500 on the to-do list

Source: MDOT Source: MDOT
Source: MDOT Source: MDOT
Source: MDOT Source: MDOT
Source: MDOT Source: MDOT
Source: MDOT Source: MDOT
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The Mississippi Department of Transportation is focused on getting drivers to their destinations safely. But they only have certain resources to work with.

"If we continue to operate under the same level of funding that we're operating at today then what you see now will only get worse," said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath.

A group of lawmakers traveled to several trouble spots with MDOT this summer. The idea is that they can have a better understanding of why the money is needed to put the roads and bridges in better shape.

"As of today we have over 500 bridges that need to be replaced," noted McGrath.

The latest example is Highway 18 in Copiah County. MDOT crews have been replacing rotten wooden pilings. The hope is that they can do enough to keep it open until a new one can be built.

"We do routine maintenance on bridges," explained McGrath. "But the problem is with any kind of commodity reaches 75 or 80 years old, it's worn out. And there's nothing you can do but replace it."

Here's the thing, it takes about 4 years from inspection to construction to get a new bridge operational. So, they often reduce the weight limits to extend the life of damaged bridges. A load that's too heavy could make it collapse. That's why MDOT enforcement says they need drivers to honor the posted limits.

"You wouldn't want to have a fire truck stop within 200 feet of your house because it couldn't get across the bridge because it had been closed or collapsed," noted Chief Willie Huff, MDOT Division of Enforcement Director.

McGrath said most of the accidents in the state are from folks running off the road. And she says part of that is because of the pavement conditions.

"Asphalt is made of rock and as the cars and trucks go over the rocks, the rock polishes," she said. "So it gets smooth. So it gets wet and then the cars slide."

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