LIBERTY— A longtime resident of Mary Wall Bridge Road told Amite County supervisors Monday that conditions on the road are deteriorating and she’s worried she could one day find herself trapped.
“I’ve been raised in Amite County and I’ve lived out on Mary Wall Bridge Road for 40 years,” Doris Davis said. “It’s in such a bad condition, you can hardly get in or out.”
Mary Wall Bridge Road runs south of Liberty and has a bridge crossing the east fork of the Amite River. That bridge is built atop timber pilings and was ordered closed by state officials numerous times. Officials closed it in February 2017 after an inspection by the Federal Highway Administration, Mississippi Department of Transportation and the Office of State Aid Road Construction determined the bridge could not support a three-ton weight limit.
Davis said the bridge provides the only route off of Mary Wall Bridge Road when flooding and downed trees block the road to the west and that the cutting of timber makes flooding on the road even worse. She said trees block the road and need to be cut, forcing her neighbors out in the early mornings to take care of the problem. A December tornado dropped nine trees across the road, she said.
“To be honest with you, it scares me to go down the road,” Davis said.
She said there isn’t cell phone service available on the road and if fallen trees block the route she has to wait until another driver comes along to remove them. In October and December, residents on the road couldn’t receive mail for 10 days because of flooding and she said she lives about a mile away from the church she attends but has to drive more than 10 miles in order to reach it on Sunday mornings. If the bridge were fixed, she wouldn’t have to drive as far, she said.
“We need some help,” she said. “We need help desperately. At my age and my health conditions, I need to be able to get out. I’ve lived there my entire life and I’ve got no intention of leaving.”
Mary Wall Bridge Road is in the 5th District, where new Supervisor Tony Patterson recently took office.
District 4 Supervisor Butch Graves said the repair of roads and bridges is a difficult issue that affects counties statewide.
“These bridges, they give us a problem throughout the whole county,” he said. “It’s the coming up with the money that’s always the problem.”
Patterson pondered if a low-weight bridge could serve as a temporary fix for the problem, but county engineer David Cothren said temporary solutions, while they may be effective, won’t be approved by state officials. He said the bridge would likely need robust repairs and said a project of that nature could cost upwards of a $1 million.
Patterson said he would work on clearing trees from the road and look into grating and regraveling in the meantime.
“I pray y’all will help me,” Davis said.
On occasion, the county receives state and federal funds for the repair or replacement of roads and bridges. In the last round of funding allocation, Cothren said the county applied for numerous projects and received funding for the replacement of three bridges on Powell Road. He said he would apply for a funding exception with State Aid officials in an attempt to use Local System Bridge Program aid for the Mary Wall Bridge Road bridge, but that he does not expect to receive State Aid for the project.
In other business, the board:
• Approved a request by Bobby McDaniel to close Easley Road from Highway 568 East to McElveen Road from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 6 for a Lynyrd Skynyrd memorial concert. McDaniel said there are no residents on the section of the road and the only nearby driveway belongs to a chicken farmer. He said the event will have portable toilets and a portable stage with food vendors on-site and musical performances at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.
• Approved travel for Sheriff Tim Wroten and Chief Deputy Rodney Murray to attend the annual sheriff’s summer convention in Biloxi in June.
• Wrote off $564 on Diondrick Hurst’s solid waste account, refunded Shenita Selman $24 on her account and Jerry Wroten $252.
• Took no action on an invitation from Pike County Economic Development District Executive Director Jill Busby for county supervisors to attend an economic development workshop for elected officials at Southwest Mississippi Community College in February.
• Approved veterans services officer Jim Sterling to attend training in Biloxi in April.
• Approved a list of asset transfers between district offices and the E-911 department.
• Approved travel for fire investigator and Civil Defense and E-911 Director Grant McCurley to attend the spring fire investigator seminar in Oxford in March.
• Reimbursed District 3 employee Randall McKey $119 for his CDL physical.
• Paid a $400 annual fee to maintain ownership of the amitecountyms.gov domain registration.
• Approved farm/residential 16th Section lease for Mark Jackson and residential leases to Lucious Williams and Charles and Holly Brumfield.
• Approved a 16th Section public driveway easement for Cheryl L. Cutrer on Sherman Church Road.