Winter storm damages county roads and budgets

HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Without a doubt, last week's winter storm had a huge impact on South Mississippi.

"We have almost 100 bridges in the unincorporated area of Harrison County and all were frozen solid," said Russell Weatherly, the Harrison County road manager.

According to supervisor Marlin Ladner, working to keep the roads and bridges from freezing wasn't cheap. In addition, it cost even more to treat the roads once they were actually frozen over.

"It is going to cost us a little extra. We had personnel that were working practically 16 to 18 hours a day and they were working hard. We're very proud of them and I think it contributed to the safety of the community," Ladner said.

Oddly enough, the beach helped lower the cost for Harrison County.

"We will probably not incur that in much cost because we used most of the material from the sand beach and we did have some overtime but all in all I think we'll fare pretty well through this economically," explained Connie Rockco, another supervisor in Harrison County.

According to MDOT officials, the winter storm cost the county and state at least a million dollars. While most of the damage has been done, there's a also a concern about the conditions of roads and bridges in the future.

"We'll begin to see increased weathering of the road condition. Any time you get an icing event like that, water gets down into some of the cracks and freezes. It will begin to weather the asphalt sooner, so in the springtime you can expect to see more potholes than usual," said Kelly Castleberry, a district supervisor for the Mississippi Department of Transportation.

Spotting those potholes will be the job of county road crews as they do damage assessment, according to Weatherly.

"We're going to be doing that even more thoroughly because we had the event last week and look for any potential signs of any severe areas of impact on the roads or bridges and try and get them taken care of as soon as possible," said Weatherly.

The damage assessment being conducted by Harrison County road crews should take about a week to complete. The actual overtime costs incurred by the county has not yet been calculated.

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