HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - State officials said taxpayers will end up footing the bill for what careless drivers have done to an Interstate bridge in Harrison County. Right now, MDOT crews are making repairs near the Wolf River bridge on Interstate 10. Officials said people have been parking alongside the bridge and driving underneath it which is illegal.
"It causes washes which can later on erode under the road," said Henderson "Speedy" Rettig, maintenance supervisor.
Rettig showed WLOX where some parts of the road are starting to crumble.
MDOT officials said the Wolf River is popular spot to hang out and take a cool dip. The problem is that to reach the water, some people are driving alongside and underneath the bridge and creating more and more cuts in the terrain each time.
"It destroys the grass. Kills the vegetation, which the vegetation is what holds the material in place and keeps the bridge slopes and the road slopes in place," said Rettig. "They go along and dig out holes under the bridge. As rivers flood, as they do at times, it can cause erosion. If it erodes around the bridge pilings, that can cause problems with the bridge itself."
Crews are hauling in dirt to fill in the low areas, so they can undo the damage before the pilings are compromised. Soon they will replant grass to try to stop the erosion.
With a tight budget, MDOT officials say they don't want to have to come back again to make repairs especially for damage that is avoidable. They put up 'No Parking' signs and warn drivers that state troopers will be strictly enforcing the law.
Rettig said, "They could be given a ticket or possibly have their vehicle towed by parking on the side of the interstate. Interstates are a no access zone. It's taxpayers money that could have went into repairing other parts of the roadway. Stuff we actually drive."
MDOT officials said with labor and materials they estimate the price tag for the repair project to be between $12,000 and $13,000.