GEORGE COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Drivers in George County who travel over the Highway 198 East Bridge may have to prepare an alternate route beginning Monday morning due to a major bridge replacement project.
According to the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the bridge, which connects the Multi-Mart and Rocky Creek communities, will be closed until the summer of 2016 while contractors demolish, remove, and replace the current bridge.
MDOT will detour east and west bound traffic to U.S. Highway 98 by using Old Highway 63. Local residents will still have access to their homes with Old Mobile Highway as a detour.
Once it is completed, the bridge's shoulders will be wider, reducing the steep roadway decline approaching the bridge and increasing the bridge's overall load weight capacity.
According to District One Supervisor Fred Croom, there is no good time for a closure of this length but the project will benefit the area for years to come.
"I see this bridge replacement first as a road safety improvement project for our residents. The bridge will be smoother and wider for our local drivers," said Croom. "In addition, the new bridge will also benefit our economic development. In fact, weight capacity and width are among the biggest items industrial and commercial developers consider in road infrastructure, and Highway198 is a major business corridor for George County."
A project manager from MDOT will be in George County overseeing the construction for the entire duration of the project.
Bridge closure signage is expected to be in place on Monday morning, with heavy construction equipment being brought into the area sometime during the week.