• 48°

City watching shifting bridge

City engineers are keeping an eye on a Washington Street bridge listed by state officials as being in “critical condition.”

Separately, Sharkey County supervisors have closed four bridges in response to recommendations from State Aid officials. State engineers reviewed bridge inspections and closing procedures after the deadly collapse of a century-old bridge in Wayne County.

Vicksburg engineers say they are monitoring the Washington Street bridge between Isle of Capri and Clark Street that has shifted about 1 1/2 inches to the east, according to a routine state inspection. The state has only recommended that the concrete span be watched for future movement.

“It’s not something that’s going to fail,” said James “Bubba” Rainer, head of the city’s public works division. “It’s been doing this for 25 years.”

Still, Rainer said they are keeping a close eye on it. About 15 years ago, the bridge required major repairs after its north end collapsed.

The exact cause of the shift is not known. Rainer said he does not believe it is being caused by ground movement, but thinks it could be due to traffic.

“One of the problems with that bridge is that it has a lot of heavy loads go across it,” he said.

About 7,150 vehicles cross the bridge daily and it is a major truck route from downtown to Interstate 20.

About a half-mile south of that bridge, two other bridges, the I-20 Mississippi River bridge and the U.S. 80 river bridge, are also shifting east. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development is currently investigating the cause of those problems.

Officials in Sharkey County closed bridges on Dowling Bayou, Greer, Fisher Lake and Upper End roads. In a public notice, they said it was due to safety reasons.

“We regret any inconvenience this may cause the citizens of the county,” supervisors wrote in the notice.

A routine state inspection in March identified various problems with the four spans. The reports describe the bridges as being in “imminent” failure condition.

Three men died in Wayne County when a bridge listed in “imminent failure condition” collapsed over the Chickasawhay River on Nov. 2.

State officials since have recommended that counties and cities close about 300 bridges.