Mayor informed westbound bridge scheduled to close July 8

Published 12:46 am Thursday, June 22, 2017


NATCHEZ — Vidalia Mayor Buz Craft said Wednesday the target date for complete westbound bridge closure is July 8.

Craft said he discussed bridge closure during a meeting with contractor Blastech Enterprises. Craft said prep work to completely close the bridge would begin on July 5.

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Mississippi Department of Transportation spokesman Michael Flood would not confirm the July 8 closure date when contacted Wednesday. Flood said he would update as soon as a date is determined.

Flood said the preliminary phase is active currently. During the preliminary phase, contractor crews will be removing aesthetic lighting, performing structural measurements for determining the necessary parts and equipment needed for the pin and link replacement and the installation of the containment system.

The containment system is the net-like structure being installed under the bridge currently.

“This containment system is designed to keep painting materials from reaching motorists or polluting the river, creating a safe work zone for not only the traveling public but also for wildlife and the surrounding environment,” Flood said.

Natchez Mayor Darryl Grennell said he had not received a recent update, but he urged patience once the westbound bridge is closed. When it is closed, traffic will be rerouted to move in head-to-head formation on the eastbound bridge.

“I’ve heard people complaining about the bridge being shut down,” Grennell said. “I emphasize I am glad to see that they are putting some money into restoring the old bridge.

“It is all about the safety of the people. I think we can make that minor sacrifice.”

Grennell said people who have to travel for work in Louisiana might have to leave home earlier, but that it would work out.

The cost of the project is anticipated to be $26,774,759.50. While performing the pin and link replacement, crews will also sandblast and paint the old bridge.

The contract runs until spring 2019, but the westbound bridge can only have both lanes shut down for a maximum of 365 days, Flood said.

During 2015, MDOT performed similar work and replaced two pin and link combinations while inspecting the remaining six. Blastech will replace the remaining six pin and link combinations.

Beginning early June, single lane closures began. Lane closures will be allowed from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday during the preliminary work phase.