Mississippi Bridge lighting concerns expressed

Published 3:12 pm Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Public safety was on Natchez resident Jim Sanders’ mind at Tuesday’s aldermen meeting, and he hoped to shed some light on the subject.

Sanders said he was concerned about streetlights and lights on the Mississippi River bridge that were out.

“There has been a lot of concern lately about public safety,” Sanders said. “There are an awful lot of lights out around town, and with tourist season coming up.”

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He asked the board to take the necessary steps to replace burned out lights, and the board agreed to contact Entergy about those in town and the Mississippi Department of Transportation about those on the bridge.

The energy company repairs damaged lights as it becomes aware of them, Entergy Customer Service Manager Stephen Caruthers said earlier Tuesday.

“We repair the lights within about three days,” Caruthers said. “We have to be made aware of the situation. We do a little patrolling to help with the process. But typically, if someone lives on the street and a streetlight is out, we hope they will take interest and contact us.”

At the meeting, Police Chief Mike Mullins said he would ask his officers on night patrol to take note of streetlights that were out.

As for the bridge, MDOT is in charge of keeping the lights on, Janet Sullivan, assistant to MDOT Commissioner Wayne Brown, said earlier Tuesday.

“We did a major wiring repair project on the bridge about a year ago,” Sullivan said. “We corrected what was wrong then. This is such a large system, it seems to be an ongoing problem.”

An electrical contractor works on the Mississippi River bridge when it needs it, Sullivan said.

“The biggest problem seems to be the light bulbs,” she said. “They’re replaced as quickly as we can, but we have to check the bridge at night to see what lights are out. So, it may not be as quickly as people think we should, but we do try to do it as quickly as possible.”

MDOT is holding off on overhauling the overhead light system because it has plans to light the whole bridge soon.

“The bridge will be lit up from end to end,” Sullivan said. “It will look like a Christmas tree across the river.”

That’s still a ways off, though.

Bridge repairs on the coast took precedence after Hurricane Katrina damaged some of them, she said.

If someone notices a light out on the bridge, they should call Jim Eggleston at 601-446-7358, she said.

After the meeting, Sanders said he was happy with the board’s decision to contact the two entities.