Pearl River Bridge closed for nearly six months after accident

COLUMBIA, MS (WDAM) - One lane of the Highway 98 Bridge over the Pearl River outside Columbia has been closed for almost six months following an 18-wheeler accident.

Yesterday afternoon a truck damaged the opposite side of bridge railing of the same bridge. Although the bridge has seen a rough time lately, MDOT District Engineer Albert White said the repairs should be finished within a few weeks.

White said, "He (the truck driver) had an accident and ran up on the rail and hit and damaged about 2 to 300 feet of the rail on the south side of the bridge."

White said much of the trouble repairing the bridge stems from its age. Contemporary fixes would work.

"We tried to see if we could come back and build a solid rail like you see on most bridges, but ended up we couldn't because the bridge isn't built for that much additional weight," White said.

Following a trip back to the drawing board the engineers decided to fix the bridge back the way it was, which required specialized equipment.

White said, "We had to get some special equipment to have our crews lifted over the edge of the rail, on the outside of the bridge to help form up the rail and help tie it back to the bridge structure itself. "

MDOT was schedule to begin work on the bridge in January however, several ice events pushed the repairs back. Then yesterday a truck hit the north side rail of the same bridge.

"The damage was much less than was done on the south side. It's a matter of really replacing one post," White said.

Repairs have already begun to the south side of the bridge, which white said should be fixed in about a week.

The minimal damage to the north side from yesterday's accident should also take about a week to complete. Once they finish the major repairs one lane of the bridge will be closed during the day during repairs, but open in the evenings.

White said, "I just want to say thank you to the folks. I know it's been an inconvenience, but we appreciate their patience."

The bridge should be fully operational within a few weeks.

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