Thursday, January 15, 2009
MDOT replacing old 349 bridges
By BARRY BURLESON
Bridge work has begun on Highway 349 in Marshall County and will continue for a year or more.
The Mississippi Department of Transportation is replacing three old bridges between Potts Camp and Cornersville.
Brian Childs, project engineer for MDOT, said two sites will involve realignment of the road, lessening the degree of curves and building two new bridges. At the northernmost site, a new bridge will be placed at the same spot as the old one.
“We will be working on all three simultaneously,” Childs said. “The bridges will be constructed based on up-to-date standards – meeting all specifications.”
He said the contracts for completion are not based on calendar days but on time units.
“Our best estimation is that the bridges will be completed by the spring of 2010, but like any other project, a lot depends on the weather conditions,” Childs said.
He urges travelers on Highway 349 to drive with caution in the areas of the bridge replacements.
Two of three sites are south of the Bethlehem community. The first location is approximately four miles out of Potts Camp.
“We ask that you obey the speed limit signs and watch for flaggers,” he said. “We will be detouring traffic (at all three locations) later on.”
Bill Minor, transportation commissioner, said the Highway 349 bridges in Marshall County are part of a districtwide effort to upgrade dangerous bridges, many of those made of wood.
“We have a lot of old bridges that have been there a long time that were built to hold a lot less weight,” Minor said. “We’re prioritizing, and we want to repair all of our bridges as we get the money.”
Minor oversees the northern portion of the state – including District 1 and District 2. District 1 (Tupelo) includes 16 counties – Alcorn, Tishomingo, Tippah, Prentiss, Union, Pontotoc, Lee, Itawamba, Chickasaw, Monroe, Clay, Webster, Choctaw, Oktibbeha, Lowndes and Winston. District 2 (Batesville) includes 17 counties – DeSoto, Tate, Marshall, Benton, Tunica, Panola, Lafayette, Coahoma, Quitman, Tallahatchie, Yalobusha, Calhoun, Grenada, LeFlore, Carroll, Montgomery and Attala.
He said the worst bridges are in District 2.
“The Legislature is working on additional funds to get our bridges up to standard across the state,” Minor said. “There’s a big need here in our district, and we’re going to work on prioritizing and fixing them.”
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