by Jack criss
The Bolivar Bullet
Work on the Pemble Road Bridge in Symonds, just north of Pace, is scheduled to be completed by April of this year. Originally constructed in 1970, the 412-foot bridge–one of the longest Bolivar County-maintained bridges–closed in 2015. Construction cost will come in at $2,283,995, according to Josh McPherson, Engineering Manager for Eley-Barkley Engineering and Architects. The contractor for the project is Dozer, LLC in Natchez.
“The bridge is one of the four Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund (ERBRF) projects in Bolivar County,” said McPherson. “The Mississippi Legislature designated $250 million about two years ago for the ERBRF and any county or municipality could apply for these funds. The main criteria for obtaining these funds, though, was to repair infrastructure in need of critical repair, primarily bridges. We were fortunate enough here in Bolivar County to receive assistance to work on seven bridges that were in dire need of repair–and the Pemble Road Bridge is one of them.”
When the bridge closed in 2015, McPherson said that it was programmed as a Federal Aid bridge repair project. “But at about that same time, the federal money was shifted away from bridge replacement and we ended up not having funding,” said McPherson. “When we got the state ERBRF funding we were able to start work in winter of 2019. Due to its size and length, it’s been a more complicated process to repair as opposed to other bridge work. Actual heaters have been brought into sealed-off sections where construction is taking place–when structural concrete is being poured the temperature has to always be above 40 degrees. We’re hoping to be through pouring the concrete for the job by the end of this month on the actual bridge and then we’ll begin the approach work–So it looks like the bridge will be open at the end of April.”
McPherson added that he thought the ERBRF program was an “excellent one” and that he hoped it would be continued to be funded. “It initiated several large projects in Bolivar County where, otherwise, we had no other source of state/federal funding” he said. “We had plans fully designed and ready to go for several projects when the federal funds went away. Bolivar County received almost $6 million to accommodate seven bridges that needed repair here. We were very pleased.”
Will Hooker, County Administrator, said he wanted to thank the State Legislature for the emergency funding to complete the Pemble Road Bridge. “We didn’t know how we were going to get the work done, or even if we would” said Hooker. “When the federal assistance money dried up, the ERBRF money came through in the fourth quarter of 2018 and that’s when we sat down with Josh, our county engineer, and decided that the Pemble Road Bridge in Symonds was our top priority to get back online because of its size and impact to our citizens. It’s a massive project but a very important one. I’m proud of the work we all did coming together to get the bridge work underway and we’re all looking forward to its April completion.”