Bridge at Natchez set to receive fresh coat of paint

Published 12:10 am Sunday, October 19, 2014

NATCHEZ — The Mississippi River westbound bridge is nearing major alterations.

The westbound bridge will receive a fresh coat of paint during the summer of 2015.

“It’s been many years since the bridge has been painted,” Mayor Butch Brown said. “If you don’t paint it or keep it updated, the bridge could deteriorate.”

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Brown said that in his adult life, he thinks to have seen the westbound bridge repainted once.

In conjunction with the Natchez Tricentennial, Brown said he wanted to have the westbound bridge repainted prior to January 2016, just in time to celebrate Natchez’s 300th birthday.

Mississippi Department of Transportation Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King said this project will be funded by the state and is expected to cost nearly $4 million.

All expenses for construction and maintenance on the Mississippi River bridge are half and half, meaning Louisiana and Mississippi will split the costs to $2 million.

“One of the reasons that bridge painting is so expensive — under environmental laws — we have to recapture everything that we scrape off the bridge,” Brown said.

Brown said there would be cloths stretched out under the bridge, which will catch rust particles so that it could be disposed of properly.

MDOT will take bids on the project next summer.

Brown said he would like to see the westbound bridge painted a certain color.

“I have had several discussions with the Federal Highway Administration and MDOT about painting it a color,” Brown said. “Painted bridges are popular throughout America.”

Bridges are an art form, and a big structure that will remain for many years, Brown said.

Brown is considering how the lights on the westbound bridge may affect the new color.

“We’re going to be giving it a lot of thought in the next couple of months,” Brown said.

Both Brown and King said that there will be lane closures, once the adjustments begin.

“It will impede traffic,” Brown said. “There will be curtains inside the bridge to keep paint from getting on cars.”