The state of Mississippi is once again making emergency closures of bridges after inspectors had deemed the spans unsafe.
According to the Mississippi Department of Transportation, some of the 61 bridges on the new closure list should have been closed back in September, but county supervisors did not do so.
The state has been warned by the Federal Highway Administration that it would lose $530 million in federal transportation funding if the bridges were not immediately closed. MDOT reports that money is half of the state agency’s budget.
The bridges, which are locally owned, are being ordered closed by Gov. Phil Bryant’s April 2018 emergency bridge closure proclamation of more than 100 bridges. That led to a special legislative session that authorized up to $250 million to make repairs. This year, the Mississippi Transportation Commission allocated that money for replacing or repairing 200 bridges. The MDOT says that counties with deficient bridges still open risk being ineligible for that emergency funding.
On March 27, MDOT workers fanned out across the state to set up barricades to close the bridges. In the past, local residents have removed or destroyed the barriers to keep the bridges open.