Bridge gets check-up

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 9, 2010

NATCHEZ — Workers with the Mississippi Department of Transportation took to the westbound U.S. 84 bridge Monday for routine inspections.

“The department of transportation is inspecting the bridge from the top to the bottom,” MDOT Superintendent Bud Vines said.

“They are looking for any kind of defect that the eye can see, and they are looking for anything that we need to do or anything that is (otherwise) wrong with the bridge.”

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In particular, inspectors will be looking at rivets and pins in the bridge, Vines said.

To do that, two workers — Brian Broome and Richard Whitters — will climb into the bucket of a bucket truck.

“We have a truck with a boom that goes out over the river and under the bridge, and they will be looking all over it.”

Two other workers, Scott Kuntz and Charles Blair, will be walking the metal superstructure on top of the bridge to look for anything that needs repair.

“They are going to be going all the way across the bridges on both sides,” Vines said.

The Natchez Fire Department is helping with the bridge work by providing a boat in the river, Battalion Chief David Williams said.

“We put a boat in the water in case somebody fell off the bridge,” Williams said. “It’s an (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standard, so we are helping them out with that.”

Vines said the Natchez Police Department is also helping the effort by having an officer to slow people down before they reach the bridge.

“I want to thank them, because those cars that are shooting across that bridge are unbelievable,” he said.

The progress of the work will depend on the weather, but Vines said it should take between four and five days to complete the inspections.

The inspectors also have to work around the contractors who are completing the lighting project on the bridge, and are obligated to allow them to complete what they are working on before inspecting a given site so it does not delay the contractor’s finish-by date, Vines said.

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The bridge will be closed to wide loads from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. today due to the inspections.