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Funding for county bridges may be forthcoming

NATCHEZ — After a year in which maintenance of the Adams County’s bridges was a strain on the county budget, the board of supervisors voiced happiness this week that the state may provide funding next year for bridge work.

The state’s draft budget by the legislative budget committee was released last week, and in the draft $20 million was included for county bridge repair. That money wasn’t allocated last year, and Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said not receiving it hurt the county.

“There are some counties like Desoto, Harrison and Tunica counties, they have much more in revenues because of industry and gaming, but Adams County doesn’t have the revenues of other counties, so we actually depend on the state aid road and bridge fund because it is just cost-prohibitive to build a bridge and to carry on the maintenance of the bridge for us,” Grennell said. “The county doesn’t have the money.”

The county has two bridges that are currently closed for safety reasons, Deerfield Road and Artman Road. Other bridges are nearing a need for closure.

“Some bridges we are barely keeping open,” Supervisor Mike Lazarus said. “Some of those are down to 5,000- or 6,000-pound load restrictions — you can barely get a school bus across.”

“Replacing these bridges is expensive. It’s tough. We are trying to save every dollar we can and we are running as tight a budget as we can, and there’s not a lot of room in there for bridges, and when they cut out that money for bridges, that really hurts.”

Supervisor David Carter said the Mississippi Association of Supervisors has been lobbying to get the bridge funding restored because many rural counties depend on that funding.

“Adams County has a lot of streams and creeks, and those funds are immensely important not for the supervisors but for our citizens,” Carter said.

“A lot of times it is not providing bridges but providing safety for those bridges.”

Lazarus said in his district the Buckhurst Road bridge is on its last legs, but all of the supervisors have bridges that need repairs. A long-term solution might be to convert whatever bridges that can be into box-culvert bridges, he said.

In Supervisor Calvin Butler’s district, the residents who live on Artman Road have been without their bridge for several years, having to make a long drive into the Church Hill area or find someone who will allow them to cross private property.

The county has already purchased the materials to repair the bridge, but needs the funds for the contractor, Butler said.

After a year with the tight funding, Lazarus said there’s plenty of catching up to do.

“I wish the state would double up that money to make up for last year,” he said.

The budget proposal will still have to be approved by the legislature.