County working on closed bridges

Published 8:32 am Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Two country bridges currently closed to traffic should see repairs started soon, and others identified by state and local officials as deficient will also be addressed this year, the Panola County Board of Supervisors learned this week.A bridge on River Road in District 2 will have bids for repair opened and accepted at the February meeting of the board.

A District 4 bridge on Crouch Road is also closed, and supervisors are waiting on the results of an environmental study required by the state before bids can be accepted for that repair project.

“Crouch Road bridge is the typical government situation where we have to wait six months to do a thirty day job,” said Supervisor Chad Weaver, frustrated by the inconvenience his constituents will endure while the bridge is closed.

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“I’m not complaining though,” Weaver said. “We have school buses using this bridge and for some people it’s their main road to and from work and that bridge has been a nightmare for years.”

River Road bridge has been closed since Dec. 13 and Crouch Road bridge was shut down Dec. 19.

Both of the currently closed bridges have deteriorated wooden structures with no safety rails. New concrete box culverts will replace the bridges, the safest and most economical fix for rural bridges.

State officials conduct an inspection of bridges in every county annually with the report results given to supervisors and road managers in December. Panola’s latest report showed that Crouch and River Road were the least sound bridges in the county, although the list includes several more that need attention.

“Unfortunately, our state bridge money only goes so far,” said road manager Bruce Cook. “We have to use the money available to make the repairs most needed and focus on the next ones on the list when a new round of money comes up.”

Cook said a bridge on Burdette Road that is not closed, but on the list to be closed if repairs aren’t completed in the next couple of months, does not need total replacement and only requires work that road department employees can complete.

“The bid process and contracting for repairs is very expensive so the county road department makes all the repairs we can in house,” Cook said.  In 2023, repairs were made to several bridges, some that had been ordered closed, including ones on Abe Chapel, Compress, and Still Roads.