Thursday, September 20, 2007
Supervisors hear bridge concerns
By SUE WATSON
The State of Mississippi has ordered all 82 counties to provide a list of bridges closed or not closed based on their status, according to Marshall County engineer Larry Britt.
He said the Mississippi River bridge collapse in Minnesota triggered the concern about bridge safety at the federal level and that was communicated downward to the states, and now to the counties.
“The feds are tightening up on all bridges,” Britt told the Marshall County Board of Supervisors at its first-of-the-month meeting. “They say if you don’t get these bridges fixed, they are going to cut that money off.”
The funds in question are federal dollars spent in Mississippi programs such as the State Aid Local System Bridge Replacement Program (LSBP).
“The only two bugging me are those two (bridges) on wetlands on Highway 7 South,” Britt said. “We have found no one to cooperate with it.”
The county had discussed a wetlands set aside with Strawberry Plains Audubon but so far, nothing has come of it, Britt said.
The Corps of Engineers has said 0.8 acres of wetland have to be mitigated (replaced) due to the replacement of the two bridges below Waterford. The acreage has to be mitigated at a ratio of three acres set aside to one acre lost or about 2.6 acres, he said.
The cost to the county to purchase wetland set-aside acres which would not be disturbed is estimated to run $26,000, Britt said. The acreage will have to be purchased in a approved mitigation land bank, he said.
Three bridges on Red Banks Road would also make the list of unsafe bridges but can be replaced with pipes, according to county road manager Larry Hall.
“The county has those in stock,” he said.
“The wetlands deal has to be solved,” Britt said. “We don’t want the Feds to withhold dollars. We have other bridges needing repair but these are the ones the Feds say should be closed today.”
Wetlands mitigation requires verification that the lands set aside for mitigation be substantiated as wetlands.
“The fastest way to do Red Banks Road is to put in pipes, rather than program them (with state funds),” Britt said.
He said the Mt. Carmel Road overlay project, which had been “put on hold” because the Marshall County Industrial Authority had a potential project working on land next to it, is ready for action. Mt. Carmel Road has already been designed and all that is left to do is get the right-of-way deeds.
Supervisor George Zinn III asked if work can proceed on the overlay of St. Paul Road near Byhalia.
Britt said it will take a few weeks to get the remaining right-of-way deeds and some utility lines have to be moved before work can proceed.
IDA executive director Bill Renick said two or three groups are interested in projects with Mt. Carmel Road as an access to their developments.
He added that the crossover of I-269 at Highway 302 has been shifted further west.
“The I-269 Exit will take a lot of space so we got it shifted westward to not take up some Chickasaw Trail Industrial Park land,” he said.
Renick added that supervisors should be thinking about the board’s five appointments to the IDA board of directors . All five are due to expire at the end of September. The board will have to renew their representatives or name new ones.
In other business, the board of supervisors:
• approved the 2007 tax rolls.
• discussed letting county employees transfer accrued vacation time to sick leave so employees who have accumulated and unused vacation days do not lose them. The state retirement system allows a certain number of sick days to be added as service time when employees retire, according to chancery clerk Chuck Thomas.
• approved the claims docket for August for a report total of $469,661. Of that, $251,785 was billed to the general fund.
• adopted a policy and guidelines for public access to records. Offices have 14 days from the time of request to produce a public record for viewing or for copying.
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