Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has ordered 83 county and locally owned bridges closed on Tuesday after receiving notification from the Federal Highway Administration that many previously identified unsafe bridges marked for closure were still open to traffic. By Wednesday, 19 more bridges had been added to the list, bringing the number closed to 102.
The bridges had been classified as structurally deficient and posed extreme peril to people and property according to National Bridge Inspection Standards. However, during the week of March 19, the FHWA found 83 bridges still open.
In a letter to Bryant dated April 5, the Federal Highway Administration recommended 378 bridges for immediate closure. Those bridges were derived from a March 2017 action plan formed by administration, MDOT and the Office of State Aid Road Construction to address National Bridge Inspection Standards compliance issues concerning the proper inspection and closure of unsafe bridges.
FHWA warned that if the dangerous bridges were not closed immediately, Mississippi would be in danger of losing access to federal funds.
In response to the letter, Bryant issued a State of Emergency on Tuesday giving counties 24 hours to close those bridges.
“These bridges have been deemed unsafe for the traveling public,” Gov. Bryant said in a statement. “Keeping them open constitutes an unnecessary risk to public safety, violates the corrective action plan agreed upon by the state and federal government and jeopardizes federal infrastructure funds Mississippi receives.”
Hinds and Jones counties have the most closings. In all, Mississippi lists 542 bridges closed due to unsafe conditions.
For a list of the bridges and counties affected by this declaration, click here.