Smith, Jasper County sue governor, state agencies over bridge cl - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

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Smith, Jasper County sue governor, state agencies over bridge closures

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

Two Mississippi counties have filed a lawsuit against Governor Phil Bryant and several state agencies over the recent emergency closure of county bridges.

The lawsuit was filed in Hinds County Thursday by attorneys J.D. Sanford and Marc E. Brand on behalf of Smith and Jasper Counties.

The lawsuit asks for a temporary restraining order in response to the Governor's State of Emergency declared April 10 to deal with dangerous roads and bridges throughout the state.

READ MORE: Governor Bryant orders immediate closure of 83 locally owned bridges

That order called for the closure of  83 bridges.

Lawyers for the two counties say the closures have created hazards and safety issues for those who live in the areas where bridges have been closed.

INTERACTIVE MAP: Is your bridge closed?

Their full statement regarding the bridge litigation follows: 

The lawsuit filed today [Thursday] on behalf of Jasper and Smith counties is in response to the Governor's proclamation declaring a state of emergency and directing the department of transportation, aided by the department of public safety, to close these county controlled and maintained bridges without notice to county officials and numerous residences of those counties.  The closing of these bridges has caused significant and widespread hardship to the citizens of these counties.  These hardships include: the re-routing of school buses which has caused inconveniences to parents and their children; the increased risk to the citizens in the event of emergency medical needs and the ability of emergency personnel to respond to those needs; law enforcement being able to respond to emergency situations; and fire and rescue personnel being delayed in the event of a catastrophic fire.  In addition it is causing harm to industries who are required to use these bridges for the purposes of delivering and picking up services and goods produced in these specific counties.  The county bridges are routinely inspected by public and private engineers for these counties who have not deemed these bridges to be a hazard to the motoring public within theses counties.  

The State of Mississippi has consistently failed to meet the needs of the counties and municipalities of this state by providing finances aid and assistance in repairing and maintaining infrastructure.  The emergency declaration was not well thought out, planned, or implemented to address the issues presented by the infrastructure in these counties, but was used to hastily and in an unsafe manner, block these bridges from use. The blocking of these bridges has adversely affected the citizens and industry in these counties.  It is the Counties' belief that the closing of these bridges was motivated by politics, not by the concern for the traveling public's safety and well-being.

The Department of Transportation, Department of Public Safety and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency are all named in the lawsuit.

RELATED: Counties have no choice but to close bridges in midst of emergency declaration

Governor Bryant responded with a statement saying: 

These bridges had been deemed by independent inspectors as unsafe for the motoring public. I refuse to sit idly by and risk loss of life. Had counties done their job, I would not have had to exercise my authority, which will protect the very people who elected these supervisors. Ensuring public safety will remain my top priority, and I will not hesitate to do all in my power to carry out that mission.

You can read the full lawsuit below.

We will continue to update this developing story. 

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