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$1.95M street bond could be used to finance collapsed bridge


Jason Browne



WEST POINT -- West Point took its first step toward repairing a major traffic problem during Tuesday''s meeting of the Board of Selectmen. 


The board voted to skip installing a temporary bridge, which could have cost the city up to $150,000, in favor of beginning work on a permanent new bridge. 


"It''s not the least expensive, but it''s certainly not the most expensive fix," said Mayor Scott Ross. 


The projected overall cost for the new bridge, located at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 45 Alternate, is $300,000. The city continues to search for state or federal funds to finance the project, but has been turned down by several agencies. If necessary, funds will be drawn from a $1.95 million bond originally intended to resurface city streets. 


The bond funds will be in hand by December, according to Ross. 


West Point will partner with the Mississippi Department of Transportation, which will provide concrete slabs for the top of the new bridge, and Clay County to provide labor and equipment. 


Partnering with MDOT and Clay County will cut the cost for the new bridge nearly in half from initial estimates, Ross said. 


"Whatever we need to do to try to help them, we''re going to accommodate them," said Clay County District 2 Supervisor Luke Lummus. 


Calvert-Spradling Engineers already has begun developing multiple plans for a new bridge to give the city options. Ross says the planning phase will take 60-90 days. 


"We emphasized the urgency of the project," said Ross. "Some of the preliminary engineering has already been completed." 


In the meantime, the city hopes to reopen the bridge to light traffic. 


The bridge began to fail in September when erosion from unusually wet weather caused the sides of the bridge to pull away from its embankment. A sinkhole opened in the middle of the road. 


Plans are to allow cars and light trucks to drive on the edge of the bridge, away from the sinkhole, to increase access to Main Street and downtown. The bridge will close again when construction begins. 




Interim police chief reappointment 


The city also took a step toward clarifying the vacant police chief situation by reappointing Bobby Lane as interim chief. 


Ross initially vetoed the board''s appointment of Lane as interim chief in October, stating, "As a general rule, I don''t think it''s a good idea for a candidate for a position to hold the interim title." 


However, Ross withdrew his veto Tuesday, allowing Lane to continue in the role. The city''s ailing budget played a role in his decision. 


"We''ve certainly got some budget considerations at play here that may not normally be. We can probably do without an extra administrative position for the period of the police chief search," he said. 


Ross spoke with Lane recently and said the two "resolved that we could work together." 


The West Point Police Department continues to operate without a chief since the board fired Steve Bingham in August amidst allegations of misreporting crimes.




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Reader Comments

Article Comment Rishken commented at 11/12/2009 9:25:00 PM:

I won't drivemy car over it.I'll continue to go around till the new bridge is in place.


Article Comment elvis commented at 11/13/2009 10:07:00 PM:

Why don't we park the new excavator by the bridge with a big sign " YOUR TAXPAYER DOLLARS AT WORK"?


Article Comment elvis commented at 11/13/2009 10:09:00 PM:

BTW...let's destroy all the other alternate routes through WP with re-routed traffic. WAKE UP WP!


Article Comment ta commented at 11/14/2009 7:46:00 AM:

Finally a rational decision by the "new" board. Be sure to clean the old bridge with the new street sweeper before demolition (in reverse).


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