Aldermen OK emergency repairs to Canal Street Bridge

Published 10:30 am Wednesday, March 13, 2024

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NATCHEZ — The city’s Board of Aldermen on Tuesday authorized a contract to repair the Canal Street Bridge.

On Dec. 22, 2023, the city was notified that a state inspection of the bridge indicated deterioration of at least three of the nine steel girders that support the bridge.

The state imposed an immediate 5-ton weight limit on the bridge and all traffic of vehicles heavier than that, like the tour buses that frequently cross that bridge, have had to be rerouted since that time.

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At a special city meeting on Feb. 8, aldermen voted to seek a second opinion of sorts from Volkert Engineering. However, at Tuesday’s meeting, Mayor Dan Gibson said that has become unnecessary.

“We did not act on that because they were going to charge more than Stantec and tell us similar things,” Gibson said.

“We have been back and forth with state aid engineers, Stantec, which has the contract with state aid inspections,” he said. “What we have ascertained is Stantec is willing to work on a repair option and keep the bridge open.”

Gibson said it is uncertain what the tonnage on the road will be after emergency repairs are made, which should take about three months.

He said those repairs should cost in the neighborhood of $600,000.

“It has become apparent the bridge is now over 60 years old and needs to be replaced, which would take two to three years and cost approximately $6 million,” Gibson said. “We are working to identify funds. In the meantime, the bridge is being inspected monthly. We can’t chance that bridge being closed. We could not have that Canal Street Bridge closed for two or three years.

“There is a chance that after repairs are completed, we will still have a lower rating that we are used to,” he said.

He said because of the cost involved with repairs and subsequent need to replace the bridge, the city may be able to get state help for the projects.

Gibson asked that aldermen approve a contract with Stantec for bridge repairs on Tuesday, which they did, in order to get the ball rolling. Aldermen approved the contract unanimously.

“I am so glad they worked with us at Christmas to keep the bridge open, even at the lower tonnage,” he said.