Millions to be spent on electronics for river bridges

Published 11:34 am Friday, December 16, 2011

More than $9.8 million is headed to Mississippi, Louisiana and Arkansas to install modernized signs, cameras and monitoring systems on and around the four bridges that span the Mississippi River, including the Interstate 20 bridge in Vicksburg.

Dynamic messaging signs will alert drivers about road closures and other driving hazards on both sides of the river bridge here, the U.S. 49 bridge at Helena, the U.S. 82 bridge at Greenville and the U.S. 84 bridge at Natchez. Detection devices will count the number of vehicles that cross the river in each direction.

Also, an acoustic doppler radar system will track real-time current in the Mississippi River, aimed at reducing instances of barges colliding with bridge piers. All daily roadway and river data will route to each state’s traffic management center with help from DELCAN, a private partner on this project that will provide incident management services and software to speed the flow of information to motorists via

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“It’s all to improve the mobility of highway and marine transportation,” Mississippi Department of Transportation Central District Commissioner Dick Hall said.

No timetable is in place to install the equipment, Hall said. MDOT applied for discretionary grants on behalf of the Louisiana and Arkansas transportation departments.

More than $2.9 million was sought for enhancements around the I-20 bridge, plus another $619,750 from private investment, Hall said.

Funds are part of $511 million in projects in 33 states announced Thursday by the U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood from the agency’s Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER, program. Awards also went to transit system upgrades, port and rail expansions and improvements for bicyclists and pedestrians.

The 46 projects awarded TIGER funds nationwide were chosen based on long-term economic impact, energy efficiency and degree of safety enhancements, among other factors. In Mississippi, the system at the four bridges is expected to yield about $90 million net public economic benefits.