County should use money to repair bridges, not inspect them

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Irony was they keyword yesterday morning as the Pearl River County Board of Supervisors heard some expected, but unwelcome news. The state told the county to detour traffic away from a county bridge, a bridge many residents of McNeill use every day to get around.

While the county isn’t listening to those orders exactly, it is taking a big step to remedy the problem. However, they’re being forced to do it without the promised state and federal funding.

The bridge replacement fund wasn’t replenished by the state this year; instead, legislators chose to fund independent inspections of county bridges.

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Maybe it’s just this county, but county leaders already know the bridges need to be replaced; it’s funding for those replacements that is the issue. Inspections are conducted every 12 or 24 months already.

But, the state took away $247,000 worth of funding for next year from Pearl River County. That’s a big chunk, especially considering the county is now looking at a $4 million expense over the next two years to replace or repair its remaining 32 timber bridges.

Only two county bridges have been inspected so far, who’s to say more won’t be shut down in the next couple of months as part of this inspection process. The county is going to have to spend a lot of money very soon to repair and reopen these roadways. Without federal aid, these repairs could have a serious impact on the county’s budget, not to mention its plans for the future. These issues need to be addressed, however. The county is seeking alternative funding sources, but with so many shortfalls in the state’s budget, that might be difficult. Some bridges are the only access point to some communities. If they’re closed, residents will be stuck taking inconvenient detours.