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Clarke bridge, crooked road due for replacement

By Staff
SOLVING FLOOD PROBLEMS State Rep. Eric Robinson, right, explains plans to rebuild the Chicksawhay Bridge at a press conference Wednesday. Wayne Brown, left, transportation commissioner for the Southern District of Mississippi, told reporters that rebuilding the bridge near Quitman would mean closing that section of road for more than a year. Brown said construction should be finished by 2006. Photo by Kyle Carter/The Meridian Star
By Ashley McPhearson / staff writer
July 17, 2003
QUITMAN Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown and State Rep. Eric Robinson, Quitman, announced a major road and bridge project for Highway 512 in Clarke County.
The plan to ease flooding problems came during a press conference Wednesday.
It will involve replacement of the Chickasawhay Bridge and the highway on both sides and means the road will be closed for more than a year.
Construction is expected to begin within a year and a half and be finished in 2006.
Brown, Robinson and Quitman Mayor Tommy Blackburn outlined the plans as they stood on the banks of the Chickasawhay. They said the bridge will be designed to force water to go under the structure and avoid seasonal flooding or at least reduce the number of days the bridge is impassable.
In a second phase, the Mississippi Department of Transportation plans to straighten a dangerous S-curve on Highway 512. The two jobs will be done at the same time to minimize the inconvenience for people who travel Highway 512.
The cost of the project is expected to be $1.5 million generated primarily by gasoline taxes.
The area around the bridge floods annually, but Brown said the problem is only now being addressed because the bridge had been assigned a low priority rating.
Blackburn said part of the reason the bridge must be replaced is because it is one of the first places the Chickasawhay River overflows its banks. He said the new bridge will even in more extreme floods slow the water's encroachment.
George Green, a resident of Stonewall, thinks the new bridge is not the answer to the Chicksawhay's flooding problems. He says Okatibbee Lake and its dam are designed to control flooding, but they don't.
Green said the new bridge will help people who live east of Quitman, but not the those who live in Stonewall, north of Quitman.
Other elected officials attending the press conference included: state Sen. Videt Carmichael, R-District 33; state Rep. Greg Snowden, R-District 83; state Rep. Joe Taylor, D-District 86; and several members of the Clarke County Board of Supervisors.