Replacing interstate sign truss on pace to be completed in May
Published 11:38 am Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Plans are being finalized for a new truss that will span the width of Interstate 20 near the Washington Street overpass and replace the one that was damaged and removed following a traffic accident in late September.
Mike Flood, a spokesperson with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, said the truss, which holds important directional signage for those traveling east along Interstate 20 at the foot of the Mississippi River Bridge, is scheduled to be installed in May.
Just around 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 20, an 18-wheeler carrying vehicles overturned as it headed eastbound on the bridge. The accident happened at the foot of the bridge near the Washington Street overpass. The 18-wheeler collided with an unoccupied work truck parked on the side of the interstate and damaged the large support structure — the truss — that holds directional signs located above the interstate.
The wreckage from the accident took more than 12 hours to clean up and forced the closure of both eastbound and westbound I-20. The interstate was not fully reopened to traffic until just after midnight on Sept. 21.
Louisiana officials closed all eastbound traffic a few hours after the accident, while the westbound lanes remained open. But as it became clear the damaged support structure for the signs had to be removed, MDOT officials announced the closure of the westbound lanes.
The Vicksburg Police Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the Mississippi Highway Patrol supported the closures as crews worked to take down the structure, cut it into pieces and remove it from the area. But before that work could begin, the 18-wheeler had to be removed and fuel spilled during the accident had to be cleaned up.
While that was going on, traffic on both sides of the bridge backed up for miles. At one point, the westbound traffic had backed up more than nine miles, nearly reaching Bovina.
The I-20 bridge at Vicksburg is the only bridge crossing of the Mississippi River for 150 miles between Greenville and Natchez. Detouring either north or south, if drivers could even reach the appropriate exits off of I-20, would take several hours.
Flood said the design of the new truss had been submitted for further approval and should be sent to Atwood Fence Company in Kosciusko in January. The construction and installation would cost $462,000.
Both eastbound and westbound lanes will be closed to install the new truss.