Constructions begins for East Hardy Street bridge replacement over Leaf River

Published: Jun. 22, 2021 at 4:21 PM CDT
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FORREST COUNTY, Miss. (WDAM) - If you’re a frequent traveler over the East Hardy Street bridge, keep an eye out for construction crews. The bridge replacement project over the Leaf River has begun.

The current East Hardy Street bridge that connects Hattiesburg and Petal is 70 years old and will soon be replaced.

“It’s going to be a really nice bridge. We will have spindled handrails, lighting, there’s some artwork. It’ll be something that we’ll be able to use and enjoy for generations to come, so we’re very proud to have it underway,” said Forrest County Board of Supervisors President David Hogan.

The two-lane bridge will also feature a pedestrian walkway. There is an 18-month timeline for construction, weather permitting. Seventy-five percent of the project is funded by a grant from the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

“I want to personally thank the state delegation, that’s a roughly $20 million dollar project,” Hogan said. “The state provided $15 million of those dollars, so we owe a debt of gratitude to our local state representatives. So we’re proud to have it going.”

Petal resident Bernard Jackson works near the bridge as the sales manager at JF Auto Sales. He said he’s seen the crews.

“Yeah, I’ve heard about it,” Jackson said. “A few of my neighbors, we got together and talked. The city didn’t give us too much information.”

The project is in the early stages, but Jackson is looking forward to the new bridge and hopes construction won’t negatively affect business.

“Not only do I work here in the community, but I also live here, so it’s a convenience on one end but again there’s so much unknown,” Jackson said. “We’ve got a pretty good loyal customer base. You know we’ve been here for quite some time, so I think we can weather it.”

There are still plans for the recognizable old bridge.

“Mayor [Toby] Barker reached out to us about saving the old bridge, and we’ve agreed,” Hogan said. “So Hattiesburg, Petal and Forrest County have joined a partnership where we’ve allocated some funds for the repurposing of the old bridge. So we’ll look forward to seeing how that comes out.”

The bridge will remain open for traffic while the work is being done.

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