PINE BELT (WDAM) - Pine Belt drivers are beginning to see more bridges opened for traffic after many bridges were closed across the state for safety reasons.
In early August, Governor Phil Bryant ordered 23 bridges in Jones County, six bridges in Jasper County and six in Wayne County be closed.
In April, Bryant signed a proclamation declaring a state of emergency and ordering the Mississippi Department of Transportation to immediately close 83 bridges statewide due to safety concerns. According to the Mississippi Office of State Aid and Road Construction, more than 500 bridges are currently closed in the state.
Jones County had the highest number of closed bridges in the Pine Belt. But some of those bridges are now opened for drivers.
“Originally we had 23 bridges that were closed, we do have more than 15 that have been re-inspected and replaced,” said Chataura Sanders, the Chief Communications Officer for the Jones County Board of Supervisors.
Sanders said that your normal drive was longer because of the closed roads.
“We had school bus routes that had to be re-routed, adding twenty-thirty minutes to our citizens daily routine,” said Sanders.
Jones County officials tell us that some bridges won't be reopening due to illegal activity.
“No one is living in that area, we have some that are doing illegal dumping, dumping trash,” said Sanders.
We also reached out to officials from Wayne County who released the following statement:
“One of the cheaper ways of doing it was with timber pilots, those are somewhat like a power pole. Nowadays we use concrete and steel, so you don’t have that much of an issue. With the closures you’re affecting so much, the economy, people trying to get back and forth from work, and school so it’s an important issue.”
Pine Belt drivers believe that when several bridges were closed throughout the Pine Belt, and especially Jones County, that the roads were hard to become used to.
“Something important may be happening in their lives and they need to get to where they need to be,” said Jones County resident Jeremy Saucier.
To see details on bridges that are currently closed visit this www.osacrc.ms.gov.
The list will continue to be updated as the status of each bridge changes.