Inspectors check structural integrity of Popp's Ferry Bridge

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - MDOT is trying to determine whether the part of the Popp's Ferry Bridge left standing is structurally sound. On Wednesday, inspectors began examining the area of the Biloxi bridge that was hit by a barge on Friday. Officials say the evaluation process is designed to find any problems that may not be obvious.

MDOT officials say the parts of the bridge that didn't collapse from the barge strike didn't escape unscathed.

"We do know there is some damage to the piling under the structure that is remaining right now," said District Area Engineer Kelly Castleberry. "We do know there is a pile that's sheered off. We know another pile that is cracked. That work can be repaired. We can repair that structure, but we want to make sure we're not missing anything else."

Inspectors boarded a snooper truck to take a closer look. The truck is able to transport the inspectors to places that otherwise would be hard to reach.

"They can actually go under all the bridges and go all the way across the bridges," said Castleberry. "Put their hands on anything that looks suspect. See it, measure it, make sure it's going to meet the criteria needed to keep this bridge safe."

Divers searched for any damage below the surface using visual inspection and sonar.

Castleberry said, "We do an in depth inspection of the sea floor, the elevation of what the sea floor is compared to where the piling is. We see where the bridge failure occurred and where the bridge collapse is. By that, we mark everything based on that sonar."

MDOT officials say the information gathered in the evaluation will go into making the sure the bridge is repaired correctly.

"We're actually going to go out to the bastille span which is the drawbridge and check the mechanical features there," Castleberry said.

"Make sure there's no re-alignments. Make sure we catch anything that might be damaged or possibly cause problems later," he said. "We just want to make sure to make it safe for everybody."

Castleberry says MDOT has already ordered beams, pilings, and rail needed to repair the bridge. He says debris removal is on temporary hold until after Thursday when the structural inspection should be complete.

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