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GUMS CROSSING – Construction is just past the halfway mark on a temporary work bridge that spans Skuna River and the backwaters of Grenada Lake at Gums Crossing on County Road 221. The work bridge will be adjacent to a new bridge, a work platform across the lake to allow access for equipment needed to erect the new bridge. Crews with Malouf Construction are constructing the work bridge in sections, driving pilings and placing massive wood timbers across the top as they work from the north to the south.
District Five Supervisor Gaylon Gray reported that the work bridge should be completed by the end of the year.
“I am hopeful that work can start on the new bridge even before the work bridge is completely constructed,” Gray explained last week.
The old Gums Crossing bridge was closed in February, 2019, after sustaining crippling damage during historic flooding. The crossing has been impassable since then and the estimated completion of the new bridge will likely be another 18-plus months.
The project went out to bid in December, 2020, and supervisors awarded the $16.24 million bid to Malouf Construction in January, 2021. Work started in early summer, 2021, but soon hit a snag after the contractors discovered that four of the massive bridge spans from the old bridge were buried under almost 30 feet of silt in the lake bottom. The bridge spans fell into the water almost a year after the bridge was damaged. Making matters worse, two of the bridge spans were located directly where pilings for the new bridge will be located and had to be removed.
For months crews at the site worked to dredge the area around the concrete spans, pumping the silt away from the concrete and using dive teams to connect cables to large hoists to remove them from the lake bottom. The work was complicated by heavy rains that continued to wash silt back over concrete time after time just as divers were able to access them. The cost for removing the concrete exceeded $3 million and was outside of the scope of initial contract awarded for the job. With the added work, the total cost of the project is expected to exceed $22 million, making it the largest project ever awarded by Yalobusha County.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is funding 80 percent of the total cost. The State of Mississippi also kicked in one million dollars from bond money appropriated during the 2020 Legislative Session.
Supervisors were making preparations to borrow $2.5 million earlier this year for the remainder of the funding. The plans were nixed after the county received a $3.14 million allocation in July from Mississippi’s Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund (ERBR).