Commission to seek permissionto repair two piers on old bridge

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 12, 2001

[10/11/01]The Vicksburg Bridge Commission decided Wednesday to ask Warren County for permission to make repairs to the old Mississippi River Bridge the commissioners believe to be an emergency.

The former U.S. 80 Bridge is owned by Warren County and is overseen by a five-member commission appointed by the Board of Supervisors. That commission has been trying for the past several years to find out why one of the bridge’s support piers is slowly moving westward.

The commission has been working with its engineering firm HNTB of Baton Rouge and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to find out why Pier 2 is five inches out of alignment. Panel members were told by Jack Shortess of HNTB in August they should take corrective action quickly and that possible plans were in preparation.

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In an executive session that lasted nearly an hour, Shortess Wednesday presented to the commissioners a plan to do repairs to the bearings that support the roadway, which has been closed to vehicular traffic for three years, and the railroad track. The track is the only Mississippi River rail crossing between Memphis and Baton Rouge.

After the executive session the commissioners voted to declare an emergency and ask the Warren County Board of Supervisors to allow them to bypass the usual requirement to advertise for bids by getting proposals from contractors.

Following the meeting, Commission Chairman Hugh “Winkie” Freeman said the repairs involve resetting the bearing plates and bearings on Piers 2 and 6.

“This is not anything to do with correcting the movement of Pier 2 but it will bring our anchorage I-bars more in a vertical line,” Freeman said.

The commission has an engineer’s estimate of about $220,000 for the proposed work.

Freeman said he plans to present the proposal to the board of supervisors Monday afternoon after the board’s regular meeting.

“They have to approve everything we do. We wanted to make them aware of this situation and give them an explanation of why we consider this an emergency situation,” he said.