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Mississippi adds to list of unsafe bridges to be closed
from The AP
April 12, 2018 -

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi transportation officials issued an updated list Wednesday showing more than 100 locally maintained bridges will be closed because they are in dangerous condition.

Gov. Phil Bryant ordered 83 bridges closed Tuesday, saying the list could expand.

The U.S. Department of Transportation sent the governor a letter last week to say Mississippi's bridge-inspection program was not meeting federal standards. Bryant said Mississippi was at risk of losing some federal transportation money.

The Office of State Aid Road Construction said Wednesday that 102 unsafe bridges are in more than a dozen counties.

Mississippi Department of Transportation executive director Melinda McGrath said the list of bridges could continue to change as counties submit more information to the state aid road office.

"MDOT is thankful for the governor's strong support of public safety while protecting federal transportation funds that come into the state," McGrath said in a statement Wednesday. "The state and MDOT cannot afford to lose any money for roads and bridges."

Bryant could call legislators back to the Capitol for a special session to consider a long-term plan to pay for transportation improvements. The House and Senate couldn't reach consensus during the nearly three-month regular session that ended in late March.

The Federal Highway Administration forced an intensive round of bridge inspections in Mississippi in 2016 after concluding the Office of State Aid Road Construction was doing too little to oversee how cities and counties examine local bridges.

The state transportation department does not directly control the state aid road office, but federal officials threatened money that the department spends on state-maintained roads if the department didn't force the office to comply.

Inspections have focused on more than 1,500 local bridges that are supported by wood pilings, though their roadbed may be concrete.

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