About 600 of the 1,600 bridges currently under examination are receiving their first look under a new set of Federal Highway Administration recommended standards.
“There have been quite a number closed during this cycle, but that was to be expected. We’re looking at 600 or so that have not been looked at in-depth,” said Harry Lee James, the state aid engineer with the Office of State Aid Road Construction. “Anything that potentially causes concern, that may be a public safety issue, we’d rather err on the side of caution than trying to keep it open.”
These 1,600 bridges make up roughly half of the state’s total timber bridges.
Earlier this year, Gov. Phil Bryant ordered bridge closures around the state after the Federal Highway Administration said many timber bridges had not been properly inspected and were no longer safe.
Consultants recommended closing 409 out 1,533 inspected bridges, or just over one quarter. Since April, when the governor declared the state of emergency, the total number of closures peaked at 542; the number now sits at 509.