Thanks to a recent grant of more than $1.5 million from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Johnson Bridge in the southwest corner of Coahoma County will be replaced in the near future.
The Coahoma County Board of Supervisors applied for grants to deal with issues on the Johnson Bridge – on the corner of Stanley and Johnson roads – and Moon Lake Bridge in Moon Lake. The grants were for emergency road and bridge repairs from the state with $20 million set aside.
The Johnson Bridge grant was approved, but the Moon Lake Bridge was not.
“We were blessed to get the one because a lot of counties didn’t get anything,” said Board of Supervisors president Paul Pearson.
The bridge is being held together with timber piling and will be concrete when it is redone. A timber pile is a long slender column usually of timber, steel, or reinforced concrete driven into the ground to carry a vertical load.
Ken Weiland and Terry Smith from Smith & Weiland Surveyors and Engineers will oversee the project. The bidding process to determine the construction company has not taken place.
Pearson discussed the advantage of having a concrete bridge.
“The poles that hold the bridge up are so close together that every time we get a flood, a lot of debris and stuff, it stacks up against the bridge,” he said. “We have to get all that cleaned out in front of it.
“When we get through with the bridge, anything that will fit on the bridge will be able to cross the bridge. There won’t be any weight problems. The biggest thing is debris piling up against the bridge. When we get these big rains like we’ve been having here lately, the debris and stuff piles up against it.”
Pearson said when too much is piled against the bridge during flooding, it could be pushed down with timber piling.
“All that will be remedied when we get through,” he said.
The bridge will be closed during the time of construction.
The grant will free up funding for other projects.
“We get road and bridge replacement money from the state,” Pearson said. “We get state aid funds for road and bridge replacement on some state aid roads. Not all roads, just some state aid roads. On your bridges, you get money, so this will free up one and a half million dollars that we can use somewhere else.”
Even though the Moon Lake Bridge has been closed for about a year, there was more of an immediate need to replace the Johnson Bridge.
“We were programmed to do it first anyway because of the situation of the danger and the hazards of it being washed away in a storm or something,” Pearson said.
Issues with the Moon Lake Bridge will be addressed.
“The biggest problem we have with the Moon Lake Bridge is that we could repair the bridge and reopen it,” Pearson said. “But we’re going to have to reopen it to car and light truck traffic only.
“We’re going to have to have some kind of way to monitor that. Obviously, somebody can’t sit up there 24/7 and make sure a tractor or a school bus or an 18-wheeler or a garbage truck doesn’t go across it, so we’ve got to figure out some kind of way to monitor it if we’re going to open it back up.”
Pearson said it could cost $1.5 to $2 million to replace Moon Lake Bridge before other expenses.