GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - It is out with the old and in with new. One of the oldest, three story, wooden, railroad bridges in George County that was a safety hazard for drivers has been torn down. Now, preparations are underway to build a sturdier, wider overpass.
George County residents Nancy Joe Maples and her son, Gus Maples, have fond memories of the Ernest Pipkins wooden bridge. For 65 years, it spanned over the Canadian National railroad track that connected Hwy 198W to Hwy 98.
"We lived close enough to it that when we would hear the train we could run down and stand on the bridge, wave to the conductor, and count the train cars coming," Nancy Joe Maples said.
Over the years, the Maples said the one lane, wooden bridge started to deteriorate. The county actually had to close it to vehicle traffic five years ago.
"The wood on it started to rot and it looked like it needed some fixing up," Gus Maples said.
The 65-year-old bridge is now no more. A small army of construction crews finally demolished it this week.
"They just grabbed one board at a time, just ripped it up, and salvaged what every they could," Assistant Engineer Michael Brown said.
Crews are now clearing the way for a new two lane concrete bridge. They said once it's built, it should be safer and studier for drivers.
"There will be about 300 yards of concrete by the time it is all said and done," Taylor Trochesset said.
"It will be up-to-date, meet all the standards, approximately 60 feet wide and have emergency lanes," Supervisor Larry Havard said.
Supervisor Havard represents this area said the bridge replacement project will also reconnect communities.
"It will connect these two communities back together - the Beaver Dam and Bexley communities. I have sisters that live on each side. They had to walk across the bridge or ride a four wheeler for the last five years. But they will be able go back and forth again and visit with one another. It will be a big help."
The new, concrete bridge should be open for drivers by early next year. The total cost for the project is $900,000 with funding from the county and state. The county is working closely with the Bexley Utilities and the Canadian National Railroad to minimize track delays and track safety.