Cost to repair old bridge up $50,000

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 15, 2002

[03/14/02]Engineering costs for repairs to the U.S. 80 Mississippi River bridge were increased $50,000 Wednesday to temporarily stabilize the span for rail traffic while work is done to the bridge’s piers.

The Vicksburg Bridge Commission approved the increase, bringing the total cost of engineering work for the repairs to $296,000. Work is expected to begin in about a week and will cost $482,908.

The work is being paid for out of bridge commission funds that come from a per car toll charged to the railroad for use of the tracks that run alongside the 72-year-old span.

“With all the extra work we’re having done, I think it is pretty well justified,” Commissioner Bobby LaGrone said of the additional cost.

Work on the bridge became necessary last year after engineers said it and railroad tracks might have to be closed because of movement in the piers that support the structure. To compensate for the shifting, the bridge will be jacked up on the Mississippi side and the rocker that sits on top of the piers will be moved and adjusted.

Bridge superintendent Billy Wilson said other work will include repairing “bolts” that have held the bridge in place since it was built in 1930. The increase in the cost is to install temporary ties while the bolts are being fixed.

Shiloh Contractors Inc. of Clinton will do the work, which is expected to take about 75 working days.

Shiloh performed similar work in 1997 to Pier 2 after it had shifted nearly 6 inches to the west. The support is about 5 inches out of place.

The bridge has been closed to vehicular traffic since 1998 because of deterioration of the roadbed. That and other work would still be needed before the bridge could be reopened for traffic, and the cost for those repairs is estimated at $2.8 million.

Rail traffic continues to cross the river on the bridge at a rate of about 16 trains per day.

The bridge commission will meet again at 10:30 a.m. April 10 at the Warren County Courthouse.