Archived Story

Bridge going high-tech soon

Published 12:06am Saturday, December 17, 2011

NATCHEZ — The Mississippi River bridge will be getting an approximately $1 million technology upgrade.

The upgrade will be funded by a $4.7 million grant the Mississippi Department of Transportation received from the U.S. DOT’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery Discretionary Grants program.

The TIGER grant is for MDOT’s Intelligent Transportation System division and will be used to install Dynamic Message Signs, as well as an underwater acoustic Doppler radar system.

Michael Stokes, MDOT’s ITS program manager, said the digital message boards will be installed on the Vidalia and Natchez sides of the bridge and will alert motorists of traffic information such as lane closings or accidents, as well as weather warnings and Amber alerts.

Stokes said the signs could also be used to direct traffic for parking during large events.

The Natchez bridge, Stokes said, will be one of the first Mississippi bridges to receive the underwater Doppler radar system. The system will collect real-time river current speeds and levels. The data will be sent to a traffic management center, as well approaching boats and barges to warn them of flooding or eddies and help them have adequate time to plan an alternate route if needed.

Stokes said when a barge hits the bridge, MDOT has to shut the bridge down to investigate.

“It just causes chaos, and it’s a long detour around that bridge,” he said. “Anything we can do to prevent incidents is going to be benefit everyone.”

The radar system, Stokes said, will help prevent bridge accidents by providing fast, detailed data about the river, as well as allow officials to provide better information about potential flooding.

Stokes said the homeland security cameras currently installed on the bridge helped a lot during the flood in May, and the radar system will also enhance monitoring during flood stages.

The remainder of MDOT’s grant will be used for ITS technology improvements on the bridges in Vicksburg, Greenville and Helena, Ark.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development and Arkansas State Highway and Transportation Department also received funds from the TIGER program.

Stokes said because LaDOT and MDOT share the Natchez bridge as an entry point into its respective states, the two agencies will decide together how the upgrade costs will be shared.

MDOT’s grant was a part of a $511 million TIGER funds allotment by the U.S. DOT for a total of 46 transportation projects in 33 states and Puerto Rico.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • Anonymous

    Let’s see, a million here, a million there – how many of these would equal $15T?  Maybe we should build a third bridge so we can have a turn lane in the middle.

  • Anonymous

    the council was debating letting one of our city churches put a message sign on their front lawn.  it would have required some type re-zoning.  the answer was no.
    i did not have a problem with a beautiful church sign but reading instant messages while driving by seemed hazardous to me.   i hope your message boards are placed, appropriately, where drivers can glance at them and not impede the flow of traffic. 
    i read where the feds are asking states to ban texting and talking while driving.  everything has to be a law.  people don’t have or utilize common-sense, anymore.

  • Anonymous

    Texting while reading message boards, what a novel idea. I can see it now, first message should read “CAUTION, PERPS ON THE LOOSE!”

  • Anonymous

    CAN YOU IMAGINE WHAT IT WOULD BE LIKE IF IT WASN’T FOR THE FEDERAL GOVERNOR ? THAT TIGER GRANT WILL HELP THE DRIVER OF THOSE LARGE BOATS WITH THOSE LONG  BARGES TO MANEUVER SAFELY THREW THOSE PILLOWS. I HATE CROSSING THAT BRIDGE WHEN THOSE BARGES ARE APPROACHING.    

  • Anonymous

    Federal Governor?  What’s his name?  Don’t believe I know him.

  • Anonymous

    Its just a bridge. Get over it.

  • vilou09

    PLEASE look out for those pillows!!

  • Anonymous

    I hate to think you drive

  • Anonymous

    This project, along with the hundreds of glaring HID lamps along both bridges and the “highway to heaven” overpass being built on the north end of Natchez blows my mind. Our government is broke and somehow the MS DOT keeps receiving and spending federal money on totally unnecessary highway projects around Natchez. What’s up with this? Who’s managing to get all of these projects approved in these depressed economic times? It seems our federal government has gone insane and has no concept of money management. Well, if the government insists on wasting our tax dollars at least Natchez is getting a piece of the pie. I just would like to know WHY these projects are happening and WHO is benefitting financially. Anybody know who’s responsible for all of this unnecessary expense? Are any jobs being created locally from these projects or is the money going to out-of-town contractors? Just curious. It would be nice if the Natchez Democrat would look into this and write an article for our information but of course it will never happen.

  • Anonymous

    This is why Congress can’t seem to find a trillion or two to cut from the budget, they would rather screw with Medicare, Social Security, tax rates and other programs that directly affect people financially (negatively for most), not convenience wise.  Those programs are larger and easy to only talk about 2-3 issues to solve the crisis quickly so they can get back to the junkets and their golf game.  Much the same locally of paving city streets (which were in relatively good condition before paving) last year just before elections and now can’t meet payroll without a payday loan or replace a roof on the depot.

  • Anonymous

    PLEASE TELL US TO WHICH FEDERAL GOVERNOR YOU ARE REFERRING ?

  • Anonymous

    Probably has his headlights on bright all the time.

  • Anonymous

    They’re gonna do WHAT?????????