River bridges inspected; no problems found

Published 11:26 pm Wednesday, September 12, 2007

NATCHEZ — Miss-Lou drivers might have been inconvenienced this week when driving across the two bridges over the Mississippi River, but it was all in the name of safety, state transportation officials said.

The bridges were inspected this week, and no problems were found, officials said.

Mississippi Department of Transportation inspectors examined the bridges for anything from cracks to corrosion Monday and Tuesday.

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The bridges are inspected on an annual basis, Janet Sullivan, assistant to MDOT Commissioner Wayne Brown, said.

“They look at them from top to bottom, end to end — the pilings, everything,” Sullivan said. “There’s no problem. It’s just a regular thing.”

Although Louisiana has some responsibilities for the new, eastbound bridge, both bridges are managed and inspected by MDOT, she said.

The inspections meant some lanes of traffic across the bridges were closed temporarily.

Each transportation district of the state has two bridge inspectors responsible for examining all state and interstate highway bridges, MDOT Bridge Engineer Mitch Carr said.

“If they find anything, they will let us know,” Carr said.

Different types of bridges require looking for different potential problems, he said.

Inspectors would look for rotten or cracked timbers on a wood bridge and corrosion or cracking on a steel bridge.

The purpose of inspecting bridges is maintenance, he said.

“If we catch things before they become a real problem, it’s less of an issue to repair and costs less,” Carr said.

The older, westbound bridge opened in the 1940s.

Roughly five years ago, a team of engineers did an in-depth inspection of the bridge.