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Freetown bridge replacement may be complete in months

Key Constructors Inc. employees take advantage of clear skies Monday to continue work on the Clear Creek Bridge on Freetown Road.(Meredith Spencer The Vicksburg Post)

[7/6/04]The wait may be down to a few more months for residents of Freetown Road who lost their quickest route to Vicksburg in a 2003 storm.

Work was being done to replace the bridge by the contractor Monday, even though Monday was a holiday for all government and many private employers.

The bridge over Clear Creek northeast of Vicksburg washed out last spring on April 6 after a thunderstorm that dumped 8.31 inches of rain on Warren County.

Even though the Warren County Board of Supervisors declared repairing the bridge an emergency and some federal funds were pledged, problems kept the work from getting under way.

Key Constructors of Madison got the job in December for $424,397.28.

“They started work in late March or early April,” said District 1 Supervisor David McDonald in whose district the bridge is located and who has taken heat for the delays.

The county was also able to get Local Service Bridge Program funds from the Mississippi Department of Transportation, but during the bidding process, the county experienced a delay when federal highway officials made an error and declared the bridge ineligible for federal money. Time was lost in redrawing the plans for state specifications and then redoing them again when the federal error was discovered.

McDonald said work has progressed as quickly as possible due to the extremely wet spring and early summer weather. So far this year, there has been 43.54 inches of rain measured when the normal for this time of year is 30.40 inches.

“It’s a poured-in-place bridge and when I was out there last week, they had about two-thirds of the decking poured,” McDonald said.

Once the decking is complete, he said, the two approaches will have to be built and the railing poured.

“It will probably take a couple of more months, it all depends on the weather,” McDonald said.

“It looks to me like the people are moving along,” said Harold Simpson, a resident of 4430 Freetown Road whose trip into town is nearly double the normal length because of the bridge.

In spite of that, Simpson is still distressed about the amount of time it took for a contract to be let and work to begin. Monday he again said it seemed to him supervisors care less and less about roads the farther from Vicksburg people live.

He will, however, be glad when the work is finished.

“It’s 20 miles to Wal-Mart” now, Simpson said, adding once the bridge is complete, the trip will be cut by eight or nine miles.