By David Howell
GRENADA LAKE – The replacement of the longest bridge in Yalobusha County is a step closer to going out for bid following a permit approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE).
The quarter-mile bridge on County Road 221 spans Skuna River and the backwaters of Grenada Lake has been closed since February, 2019, and District 5 Supervisor Gaylon Gray reported the Corps’ permit was one of the biggest hurdles remaining before the project can be bid. The bridge, located in Gray’s district, isolates almost one-third of his district from the rest of the county. Residents who live in the area detour almost 30 miles, one way, to get to Coffeeville or other areas of Yalobusha County.
“The engineer said we are still on schedule,” Gray added about clearing the remaining hurdles before the $10 to $12 million project can go out to bid in early 2021. “They are also making submittal to the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality for a storm water permit,” the supervisor added.
Gray’s update came during Monday’s recessed Board of Supervisor meeting as the topic regularly surfaces with ongoing discussion about paying for the new bridge. The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration will fund 80 percent of the cost to demolish the existing bridge and build a new one.
The remaining 20 percent of the project, an estimated $2 to $2.4 million, will come from other sources including a million dollars allocated from state funding during the 2020 legislative session after Representative Tommy Reynolds and legislators from neighboring counties pushed for funding for the project that was included in a broad bond bill. Supervisors have also agreed to apply for a $650,000 low-interest loan that would flow through the North Central Planning and Development District with a vote in Monday’s meeting.
“It may come in at nine (million), it may come in at 12 (million), you can’t ever tell,” Gray added about the cost estimates. Using an $11 million dollar figure, supervisors have calculated that $8.8 million of the funding would come from the Federal Highway Administration, leaving $2.2 million. Of that amount, $1 million would come from the state bond money, leaving $1.2 million for the county to fund.
Roughly half of that amount could come from the low-interest loan the county would repay over five years, leaving approximately $550,000 still needed from county coffers or other sources.
Work to secure funding has not slowed the project, as supervisors executed a contract with Garver Engineering back in January for design work on the replacement bridge. The $611,000 engineering project was the first step in what was described as at least a three year project to demolish the remaining sections of the existing bridge and building the replacement.
Gray also reported that unplanned demotion continues as another 80 to 90 feet of the bridge crumbled into the Skuna River in recent weeks. Back in January a larger, 200-foot section of the bridge also splashed into the river.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the now-closed bridge in the early 1950s and deeded it to the county. The bridge work was done during construction on the dam, which allowed construction to be completed before the lake filled.