JACKSON – Gov. Phil
Bryant signed today a proclamation declaring a state of emergency that orders
the Mississippi Department of Transportation to immediately close 83 locally
owned bridges that have been judged deficient by the federal National Bridge
Inspection Standards and the Mississippi Office of State Aid Road Construction.
The bridges slated for immediate
closure are in Amite, Carroll, Clarke, Greene, Hinds, Humphreys, Itawamba,
Jasper, Jones, Lauderdale, Leake, Lincoln, Newton, Pike, Smith and Wayne
counties. The proclamation also applies to bridges that are found to be deficient
in the future.
The bridges will remain closed until
they are in compliance with federal and state laws, regulations and standards.
“These bridges have been deemed
unsafe for the traveling public,” Gov. Bryant said. “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.”
In November 2016, the Federal Highway
Administration Mississippi Division Office began working with MDOT to review
and evaluate the bridges that were identified in the National Bridge Inventory
as being in the worst condition, to ensure they were safe to remain open to
In March 2017, FHWA worked with MDOT
and the Office of State Aid Road Construction to develop and implement an
action plan to address NBIS compliance issues concerning the proper inspection
and closure of unsafe bridges. The primary action item in the plan
required the state to hire independent consultants to perform the NBIS
inspections of all local bridges with timber substructure.
During the week of March 19, 2018,
The FHWA Mississippi Division subsequently determined many of the bridges
deemed deficient remained open to the public.
The U.S. Department of Transportation
notified the state last week that FHWA is concerned that the bridges remaining
open constitutes an unacceptable safety risk to the traveling public whose
remedy requires immediate federal, state and local action.