Supes seek funding for Cane Creek bridge repairs

Staff Writer

Another closed Clay County bridge could be on the state's replacement list by early next year, but no one can say when money might be available to actually replace it.

County supervisors Thursday officially closed the 320-foot-long Cane Creek Bridge on Houston-Starkville Road after a federally-mandated inspection found it didn't meet new safety standards.

The center span is the biggest problem and that would cost about $300,000 to replace, County Engineer Bob Calvert told the Board of Supervisors. Replacing the entire bridge will cost $2 million or more, he said.

"We don't have the money, the state doesn't have the money. If we go ahead and it get it programmed, it will be 100 percent funding. When it will be funded is another issue. So many bridges have been closed in the state, funding is on a first-come, first-serve basis. We need to get our plans down there and on the shelf," the veteran engineer continued.

The timber bridge, which serves one mobile home in District 4, was inspected two weeks ago. It doesn't meet a variety of new safety standards, including being able to withstand an earthquake, Calvert told board members.

It is the third bridge closed in District 4 under the beefed up federal inspections. The others were on Lake Grove Road and Gilreath Road. Work on the $1.2 million replacement on Lake Grove Road is finishing up, and Supervisor Shelton Deanes was able to detour a much smaller bridge on Gilreath Road.

Supervisors shook heir heads as Calvert explained the crux of what have been statewide complaints about the inspections, which the Federal Highway Administration forced on the state because the federal agency determined Mississippi was dragging its feet on safety concerning the state's 2,300 wooden bridges.

"There is $31 million in the program and it's all going to inspections. They are paying these engineers $13,000 a bridge for inspections and paying us (local county engineers) $300 a bridge. I don't know where this is all going or how we can survive it," Calvert said, noting the job is easier for the federal inspectors because the local governments already have compiled the list of bridges and noted potential safety issues during previous inspections.

Supervisors also agreed to spend as much as $69,000 remaining in the county's fund with the Tennessee River Valley Water Management District for materials to repair Caradine Bridge. on Caradine Road just off Highway 47 in western Clay County.

Calvert said the the materials would cost between $50,000 and $70,000 and plans call for the concrete slabs to be removed, holes drilled into the limestone creek bed and new pilings installed and the slabs returned.
It's the same process used to repair the bridge on Main Street in West Point just east of Highway 45 Alternate, the engineer said.

The city completed a similar bridge for under $70,000, Calvert added.

The county lowered the weight limit on the bridge to be able to keep it open but must have it repaired by Dec. 21, under an order from the state. The county is spending $15,000 to build a short detour connecting Caradine Road to Highway 47 while the bridge work is being done.