By David Howell
COFFEEVILLE – A bridge on County Road 2 near Tillatoba was ordered closed after the Office of State Aid Road Inspection 2009 inspection report cited numerous safety deficiencies with the structure. The report was presented during a recessed meeting held Monday in Coffeeville, after supervisors reviewed their annual bridge inspection report.
“They say close that thing,” Willis Engineering representative Dock Gabbert said, as the board reviewed the inspection. “What state aid means is to block the bridge where you can’t get on it,” Gabbert told supervisors.
“A lot of times the public doesn’t understand why we have to close a bridge, but the liability in cases like this is just too great,” District One Supervisor Tommy Vaughn explained. “Just like Dock said, when state aid said close it, it has got to be closed. A lot of people have a hard time understanding something that looks like it is passable is closed, but the liability is just too great,” Vaughn reiterated.
“I think it is important that Bubba (Tillman) has got it planned,” Chancery Clerk Amy McMinn, referring to preliminary work already underway to replace the bridge, which is located in District Five.
“I have got it programmed and everything,” District Five Supervisor Frank “Bubba” Tillman said, referring to the state funding already appropriated for the project.
“The process of replacing these bridges are repairing them is not an overnight process,” Vaughn continued.
“Eighteen months is the average project, from program to construction,” Gabbert said.
“And when a bridge fails that has not been expected, you have 18 months you are looking at. Bubba is right on top of it,” Vaughn added.
“If you don’t close it, not only is a liability issue, but there is the possibility that your federal funds get cut off,” Gabbert added.
“All I lack is getting the easements signed,” Tillman said. Easements are required from property owners adjacent to the bridge as part of the project during state aid construction. The Office of State Aid Construction administer’s Mississippi’s State Aid Road Program to the state’s 82 counties, including the Local System Bridge Replacement (L.S.B.P.) that provides funding for many of the county’s bridges.
The only other corrective action requested in the bridge report required a weight limit sign to be moved closer to a bridge in District One.
Following a review of the report in Monday’s meeting, the board voted 4 – 0 to accept the report, and close the bridge. District Three Supervisor M.H. “Butch” Surrette was not at the meeting.