The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) is ordering 34 dangerous local bridges to be closed immediately.
“If these bridges remain open, it will not only present a safety hazard to the traveling public but will also threaten $530 million in federal funding, which is about 50 percent of MDOT’s overall budget,” said Melinda McGrath, MDOT executive director.
The Office of State Aid Road Construction recently discovered that the 34 deficient bridges, which the agency had ordered the counties to close by September, are still open to traffic. The Office of State Aid Road Construction, which is separate from MDOT, enforces federal guidelines for county and city-owned roads and bridges.
“MDOT and the Department of Public Safety will begin immediate closures to prevent danger to the traveling public,” McGrath said. “While MDOT understands closed bridges are inconvenient, open bridges at risk of imminent failure are a detriment to public safety.”
McGrath said the bridges are made of timber and are decaying and the problem is not going to end until every one of those old, timber structures are replaced, he said.
The current closures are a continuation of a 2017 report from federal inspectors who determined many bridges in the state were deficient.