Crews repair bridge

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 6, 2009

NATCHEZ — Traffic was bottlenecked to one lane on the westbound U.S. 84 bridge across the Mississippi River Thursday as crews worked to repair damage caused to the bridge during an accident last Friday.

Those repairs — being completed by Mississippi Department of Transportation crews — include straightening the beams that were struck by a crane boom.

The repairs also include replacing the guardrail that was damaged after the machine became dislodged from the flatbed trailer it was being hauled on, MDOT Commissioner Wayne Brown’s Assistant Janet Sullivan said.

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Natchez Police responded to the call of an accident involving a large piece of equipment on the bridge at approximately 12:25 p.m. Friday.

When they arrived at the scene, emergency responders were greeted with the sight of a crane lying on its side. It had fallen off the flatbed trailer it was secured to, and as it fell it ripped through portions of the bridge’s guardrail.

Police investigators said Friday that the driver of the 18-wheeler hauling the crane, Curtis Martin, 28, of Vidalia, told them that he had felt the truck lurch before the front end of the truck lifted off the ground momentarily. It was at that point the crane fell off.

Investigators at the scene determined that the crane’s boom had struck an overhead beam on the bridge, causing it break its safety chains before falling off.

When the accident occurred the bridge was closed and traffic was re-routed for two-way flow across the eastbound U.S. 84 bridge for several hours, but by mid-evening Friday the bridge was re-opened.

The repair work on the bridge should be completed by Saturday afternoon, Sullivan said.