By CARL SMITH
The Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to close County Bridge No. 15 located on Harris Road in an emergency session Tuesday.
The bridge, described by Pritchard Engineering Inc. Project Engineer David Harrelson as a Bailey bridge similar to prefabricated crossings designed by the military, has experienced severe erosion to its base structure, as reported to the board.
Clyde Pritchard, county engineer, performed a visual inspection of the bridge Friday and delivered his findings to the board of supervisors. The bridge was examined again by Harrelson Monday.
In a letter to the board dated Monday, Pritchard advised supervisors to close the bridge.
“The subject structure exhibits numerous structural deficiencies related to support at the end bents and center bearing span. Severe erosion has occurred at both the north and south ends which can and likely will deteriorate rapidly with storm events,” Pritchard said in his letter to supervisors. “In my opinion the safe load carrying capacity or reliability of this structure cannot be safely assessed at this time.”
The bridge, located in District 5, was already closed and barricaded following the board meeting. Supervisors said traffic will be diverted to other local routes including Chapel Hill Road.
“We had one of the citizens to contact me about debris building up under the bridge. Once we got out and started cleaning out debris, we saw the bridge was weaker than we thought it was,” District 5 Supervisor Joe Williams said.
Supervisors are currently developing district-specific requests for the county four-year road plan, but Williams could not say if the bridge was on his list before all other requests were official.
The board agreed to fund repairs with the road and bridge fund. No repair timetable or cost estimate was available during the meeting.