Lane closures for bridge work set to begin Monday
Published 12:15 am Saturday, June 3, 2017
NATCHEZ — One lane of the U.S. 84 bridge leading across the Mississippi River from Natchez to Vidalia is expected to be closed starting Monday for bridge maintenance.
Weather permitting, lane closures will run from 7 a.m. to 4 pm. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday for approx.imately the next four to five weeks, Mississippi Department of Transportation spokesman Michael Flood said.MDOT is finalizing plans to make structural repairs and paint the bridge.
MDOT contractors performed similar work and replaced two pin-and-link combinations on the westbound bridge while inspecting the remaining six in 2015.
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While the construction contract runs until spring 2019, in order to complete the bridge painting and replace the vital elements that have held the bridge together for 77 years, the bridge will require a complete shutdown for up to a year.
The current project will entail sandblasting, painting the bridge and replacing the other six combinations of pins and links.
“Closing the westbound bridge for up to a year will allow crews to make these critical repairs and paint the bridge as quickly and efficiently as possible,” Transportation Commissioner Tom King said. “With the federal funding currently in place, it’s in the best interest of the traveling public and taxpayers of Mississippi to have this major work done now so that it will not be needed again for many years.”
Before the westbound bridge is fully closed, motorists can expect alternating single lane closures as crews perform preliminary work, MDOT officials said.Contractors face penalty fees if the work is not completed as quickly as possible.
The preliminary work will entail the removal of aesthetic lighting, structural measurements for determining the necessary parts and equipment needed for the pin and link replacement, and the installation of a containment system designed to keep painting materials from reaching motorists or the river.
Throughout the project, sandblasting will take place to remove lead paint from the bridge while ensuring it does not reach the river, creating a safe work zone for not only motorists, but also for wildlife and the surrounding environment.
A temporary median crossover has been constructed to the eastbound bridge for when traffic is placed in the head-to-head configuration. Once the work is complete, the median crossovers will be removed and any landscaping or trees that were removed to build the temporary median will be replaced.
“Although this work will require the shutdown of the westbound bridge for up to a year, the project will extend the lifespan of the bridge for decades, stimulating economic growth and community development throughout the southwest part of the state,” King said.
The project was awarded to Blastech Enterprises, Inc., at a cost of approximately $26.8 million.
The public can stay updated on the project by visiting MDOTtraffic.com, with the MDOTTraffic mobile app or by calling 511.
Motorists are reminded to be aware of roadside workers once work begins.