Closure of Kemp Bottom Road bridge is another example of infrastructure problem in state

Published 9:35 am Friday, July 28, 2017

The reports earlier this week involving the bridge, located on Kemp Bottom Road, near Entergy’s Baxter Wilson power plant, used many of the words and phrases you would least want to see involving a bridge.

“It’s just a matter of time before it collapses,” Vicksburg public works director Garnet Van Norman said.

What else needs to be said in making the decision — which was made Monday — to immediately close the bridge to traffic?

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This particular bridge has been the focus of attention since suffering erosion around some of the bridge support in the historic 2011 flood of the Mississippi River.

Since that time, the bridge has been closely watched as a possible problem, and over the weekend, power plant officials, who have been watching the bridge, reported the bridge had “moved.”

The bridge crosses Hennessy’s Bayou, and has been threatened by a slide on the bayou’s west bank.

“We got the engineers down to look at it and they said, ‘It’s moved and its dangerous, and you’ve got to close it,’” he said. “They looked at it again (Tuesday), and it’s moved a lot more.”

This bridge, is just one example of an overall infrastructure challenge facing many parts of the country and particularly the state of Mississippi.

Local and state agencies simply do not have the funds to pay for all of the threats — sometimes imminent threats — that parts of our crumbling infrastructure present.

The demands for improvements, enhancements and expansion of road systems is a constant discussion each year, where the demand far exceeds the means.

In July 2016, Vicksburg’s Board of Mayor and Aldermen declared an emergency to fix a slide on the west bank of Hennessy’s Bayou and hired Stantec Engineers to develop a solution.

The repairs, however, were delayed until the board is able to find money to pay for the estimated $1.2 million repair.

Will the additional movement, damage and now closure of the bridge, create more of a sense of an urgency in making the repairs? Let’s hope so, but we also need to understand that just because there was a money issue in making the repairs one year ago, does not mean those issues have improved.

Remember, the city had to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in May to fix a water line rupture that caused a water outage that nearly crippled the city.

We are beyond blessed the bridge was closed before anyone was hurt, but it’s time to fix the bridge and fix the underlying problems to our overall infrastructure issue.