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Phil Pettit uses a backhoe to remove debris from a ditch under the old Lower Woodville Road bridge where they have started construction to build a new bridge right beside it. (Mary Kathryn Carpenter/The Natchez Democrat)
Phil Pettit uses a backhoe to remove debris from a ditch under the old Lower Woodville Road bridge where they have started construction to build a new bridge right beside it. (Mary Kathryn Carpenter/The Natchez Democrat)

New bridge construction beginning

Published 12:07am Saturday, June 21, 2014

NATCHEZ — Work is under way to replace Adams County’s lowest-rated bridge.

County Engineer Jim Marlow said the contractors — Dozer Inc. — have driven four test pilings for the new Lower Woodville Road bridge over St. Catherine Creek and has ordered more pilings.

“The erosion control items are in place, they are doing some rip-rap and other things in there now,” Marlow said. “This was a 220-working day job, so it will be going on for at least a year, a year-and-a-half.”

The Mississippi Office of State Aid Road Construction rated the Lower Woodville Road bridge at 17.8-percent in a report published earlier this year. The report says the 1945-constructed bridge’s deck is in poor condition and its substructure is in serious condition.

A 100 percent rating for the bridge would mean it was deemed entirely sufficient, and the formula used to determine its rating looks at the bridge’s structural accuracy, safety and how essential it is to public use.

“The bridge is really a deficient bridge,” Marlow said. “It has a low sufficiency rating, which doesn’t really mean anything structurally, but it is an outdated bridge that has served its life well.”

An estimated 6,200 motorists cross the bridge daily, making it the county’s second most-traveled bridge, excluding highway bridges and the Mississippi River Bridge.

Adams County Supervisors President Darryl Grennell said one of the main concerns about the sufficiency of the bridge was its ability to handle industrial traffic, which the current design can’t do in the long-term.

“This is being replaced primarily because of the future industrial growth for that port area, and we wanted to make sure we had a bridge capable of handling the loads going into that area,” Grennell said. “This is something that has been on the agenda for many years, even before my time. They started designing that over 18 years ago.”

The $2,292,602 replacement bridge will be constructed alongside the current structure, Marlow said, and traffic will be able to use the area throughout the construction.

Some re-routing of traffic will be necessary as the construction crews tie the new bridge into the road system, but the road should remain open at that time, he said.

Construction should take off in the next couple of weeks, Marlow said, and the contractor has placed message boards around the area noting the speed zone has been reduced to 25 mph for motorists.

“One of our main problems right now is getting the public to slow down going through this construction,” Marlow said.

The project is being funded through Mississippi’s State Aid Road Program, which helps counties build and maintain secondary roads and bridges.