Transportation Commissioner commends Governor’s actions on bridges

Mississippi bridges have caused the Governor to declare a state of emergency, and some commend him for that.

Governor Bryant signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency that orders the Mississippi Department of Transportation to immediately close 106 locally owned bridges that have been deemed “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.

Dick Hall, the Chairman of the Mississippi Transportation Commission, said this proclamation gives MDOT the responsibility and authority to make sure that 106 county bridges are closed.

“It is specifically for the Mississippi Department of Transportation to close bridges that don’t meet the safety standards,” Hall said. “Governor Bryant gives us the instructions to go do that along with The Mississippi Department of Public Safety- they would be assisting us in this.”

Hall hopes that this problem will soon be resolved.

“The outcome will be if the legislature will go into special session and finally do something about funding roads and bridges in the state,” said Hall. “City bridges, county bridges, and federal and state highways are the problem and the money isn’t there to have a safe system of transportation.”

He said Governor Bryant taking this action is doing two things.

“It’s keeping the unsafe bridges closed and protecting the federal money coming to Mississippi,” said Hall. “Him taking this action is going to save us a lot of grief and I think he’s preparing to call a special session if the house and senate can come to some kind of agreement on what to do, but they need to come together and do something.”

Today, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn held a meeting to discuss the future of the state’s infrastructure, and a potential solution to the situation at hand.

“This money belongs to the citizens. These are citizens dollars. They expect us to use them for the things that matter to the citizens; roads [are] one of those things,” Gunn said.

A special session could be called to address the issue, but the Governor would most likely wait until an agreement is reached by the two chambers before doing so.