In Southwest Mississippi, way out in the pines, there are no bridges to nowhere.
Every bridge on every road, whether black and striped or dusty with gravel, carries teachers, farmers, firefighters, paramedics, linesmen, families. When the older, timber-framed bridges began to be targeted for closure by federal bridge inspectors in late 2016, the impact on rural communities was far-reaching, and a circle of blame developed that led to the highest political circles in Mississippi.
With Dungan Engineering helping both boards of supervisors track closures, identify appropriate repairs and pull together funding, supervisors in Lawrence and Lincoln repaired or replaced around 60 bridges in 18 months — seven in Lawrence County and more than 50 in Lincoln — to keep rural areas safe and connected. Engineers with Dungan kept a close eye on the roving federal bridge inspectors and were ready to post or close spans as soon as possible, even preempting closure orders in some instances.
By the summer of 2018, as other counties in Mississippi continued to wail and whine — a couple of counties sued the governor in an attempt to reopen unsafe bridges — Lawrence and Lincoln Counties were emerging from beneath the cloud, a sight shorter of transportation money but without a single incident or injury.
Supervisors of Lawrence and Lincoln Counties
Lawrence and Lincoln Counties
Supervisors in Lawrence and Lincoln Counties didn’t point any fingers. They just blamed the old timber, and started knocking the condemned bridges down like a house of cards.
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