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Changes on way for 28-year-old bridge

Texas Bridge employee Robert Saucedo of Corpus Christi prepares the tarp for the side of the I-20 Mississippi River Bridge in Louisiana Wednesday. The tarps are used to contain dust, paint chips and sandblasting material. (The Vicksburg Post/C. TODD SHERMAN)

[07/26/01] The Interstate 20 bridge over the Mississippi River is getting a new look in a three-year plan to recondition and repaint it for the first time since it opened 28 years ago.

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and the Mississippi Department of Transportation will share the $11 million cost to complete the project, said Marshall Hill, the LDOT project manager.

LDOT awarded the contract to Texas Bridge Inc., of Humble, Texas, and gave the go-ahead to proceed on June 5.

Spiro Kollias, owner of Texas Bridge, said he expects to complete the project in two years, painting the bridge an off-white color instead of the original green.

“We want to finish sooner, because we don’t like to stop traffic,” Kollias said.

He said plans to close the outside eastbound lane on the bridge to make room for his equipment, may begin as early as next week.

His crew has been sandblasting the bridge’s support beams since last month and plans to start on the superstructure by September.

Texas Bridge has taken precautionary measures to ensure the sandblasted material, which contains lead paint, is properly handled, he said.

Two of the methods used include monitoring units around the work area checking for lead contamination and a containment unit, made of several different tarpaulins, that will completely cover the sandblasting operations.

Modgeski & Masters, a bridge consulting company from New Orleans, was contracted to oversee the work on the nearly one-mile bridge by testing for lead exposure in the area, Hill said.

Kollias said because he and his crew will be living in the city for two years purchasing all the supplies and materials in Vicksburg, an estimated $1 million may be pumped into the Vicksburg economy.