Transportation Commissioner inspects damaged Popp's Ferry Bridge

By Trang Pham-Bui - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Construction workers are now standing on a section of the Popp's Ferry Bridge that just days ago, was just a huge hole. They are forming the bottom of the bridge deck with permanent metal pans, so they can start pouring the concrete sometime overnight.

On Tuesday, Southern District Transportation Commissioner Wayne Brown saw for the first time the damage to the span that was caused by a barge last month.

"I've seen the pictures and knew the damage that had happened here," said Brown. "But what I am surprised at, and what I am so thankful for, is that no one was hurt."

Brown not only checked on the progress of the repairs, he also thanked those who are trying to get the bridge up and running again.

"When I come out here and see this very competent contractor and his men, how they're working, see the MDOT people overseeing it, I'm impressed," said Brown.

A team of 40 employees is working feverishly to finish the job by the April 28th target date.

"Twenty four hours a day is tough any time," said Joe McGee, owner of Joe McGee Construction.  "So the guys have done a great job. They held up. They have a lot of pride in what they do. We're still counting on the 28th of April.  Maybe, if we're lucky, sooner."

Finish sooner than the Tuesday deadline?  Brown thinks otherwise.

"They're going to be lucky if they make that deadline," Brown said.  "There's a lot of work to be done yet.  They're hoping to put traffic on it Saturday night. I think that's too optimistic.  In construction, things just go wrong.  You got beautiful weather and everything's going well. In Murphy's Law, if something can go wrong, it will go wrong."

Again, the company gets a bonus for finishing the job early.  However, if they don't make the deadline, the company would have to pay the state $75,000 a day for every day that they're late.

The Popp's Ferry Bridge rebuilding project is expected to cost about $3 million.  Brown says he hopes the barge company that struck the bridge will use insurance money to reimburse the federal government for the repair bill.

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