Bridges a bad situation for Carroll CountyBy AMANDA SEXTON FERGUSON,
According to Beat 5 Supervisor Rickie Corley, the Carroll County Bridge Crew repaired the bridge near the Vaiden Baptist Church Family Life Center on County Road 42 recently, but the state ordered it closed last week.
“[Mississippi Department of Transportation] came out and said the county did a great job fixing the bridge, and they are sending paperwork to Jackson to have it reopened,” Corley said.
Last week, Gov. Phil Bryant ordered the immediate closure of five bridges in Carroll County that the federal government said were in disrepair. That is a total of 20 bridges closed in Carroll County in the last few months, according to County Engineer Shane Correro.
To reopen the bridges, Carroll County must make the necessary repairs and have the bridges re-inspected.
According to Corley, some of these bridge closures are leading to 10 to 15 mile detours, and he said that is adversely affecting school bus routes, garbage routes, and emergency personnel trying to respond to calls.
“We are not in a real good situation right now,” Corley said.
According to North Carrollton Alderman Ken Strachan, who serves as secretary of the Carrollton North Carroll Volunteer Fire Department, firefighters encountered a closed bridge while responding to a call this past Thursday.
Strachan said firefighters were dispatched to an equipment and grass fire on County Road 215, but the closest route to the fire had a closed bridge.
Fire Chief Andy Vining issued a statement to Carroll County citizens, “Attention all Carroll County residents: your local fire services will be experiencing response delays due to the many bridge closings within the Carroll County area. These bridge closings do not only affect the fire services but also affect sheriff’s deputies, MedStat, school buses, and of course the citizens themselves. However, we are working on alternate routes for the safest and quickest ways available to your location in the event first responders are needed. Again, please bear with us.”
The bridges ordered closed last week -- Bridges 7 and 35 on County Road 42, Bridge 76 on County Road 248, Bridge 121 on County Road 72, and Bridge 123 on County Road 70 – are those supervisors have been working to repair and get reopened, with the exception of Bridge 123 on County Road 70 in Beat 1.
At the last meeting of the Carroll County Board of Supervisors, the board voted to begin abandonment proceedings on the bridge on County Road 70, meaning the county will turn over control of the bridge and its future upkeep over to the landowners. According to Beat 1 Supervisor Jim Neill, the bridge is currently at a dead end, leading onto private property, and a gate blocks the road past the bridge.
Neill said his only other bridge closure is on County Road 72 behind the Carroll County Courthouse, and he is working on a solution to fix it.
Neill said he is having a problem with not only people moving closed bridge barricades to cross the bridge illegally, but people are stealing the signs as well.
“The problem is that people are taking the signs down, but the signs are disappearing,” Neill said. “We are being forced to put up the barricades, and the stuff is disappearing. That stuff costs around $1,000 – that is Carroll County taxpayers’ money.”
Neill said he knows people are frustrated but he hopes they can be patient while the county does what it can to repair the bridges and reopen them. He said he hopes the state can come up with a solution to the state’s bridge crisis soon.
“We need a statewide fuel tax increase,” Neill said. “Everyone pays a little money. If you use the roads, you pay for their upkeep. If we have to raise property taxes, only property owners are paying, and that seem unfair.”