County supervisors at odds over bridge closing

LUCEDALE — George County’s Board of Supervisors has voted to close an 84-year-old bridge. But getting barricades or warning signs placed at the span has taken some time.

The Mississippi Press reports some county officials say Supervisor Larry Havard is responsible for overseeing the posting of warning signs at the historic Merrill Bridge at the Pascagoula River, which is in his district. But Havard, who opposed the closing, has not returned messages left by fellow supervisors or The Mississippi Press regarding the bridge.

Board members said they are working with board attorney Robert Shepard on the legalities of having the board step in.

The board had voted July 2 to temporarily close the bridge as a safety precaution after getting inspection results from a county engineer.

Bob Diamond, president of Batson & Brown Inc. in Lucedale, Diamond said he recommended closing the bridge because of several deteriorated members on the steel truss. Several support joints and turnbuckles also have accelerated oxidation damage.

The county engineer believes it would be better if the county could rebuild the bridge, which is on Salem Road.

“For the longevity and for the benefit of the county, to build a new bridge would be, in my opinion, a better expenditure of the money,” he said.

Henry Cochran, board vice president and District 5 supervisor, said when the engineers put it before the board, it makes the whole board liable.

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