National Transportation Officials Tour South Mississippi Bridge Projects

They've come to the annual American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Conference to discuss and study the latest techniques and practices related to transportation. But the real lessons lie outside the conference room.

"In Puerto Rico, we have hurricanes too," says Tom'as Montalvo of Puerto Rico. "And we have to be prepared."

Montalvo is Puerto Rico's Deputy Executive Director for Transportation Infrastructure. And he's one of more than 260 transportation officials from across the nation, here to see how South Mississippi is rebuilding its roads and bridges. This group took a tour of the partially completed Bay St. Louis bridge. It's the state's first ever design build project.

"It's different from the conventional method of design, bid, build, in that it streamlines the schedule more," says Winchester Falbe, Construction Quality Control Manager for HNTB Construction. "And it really saves the public a lot of money."

Saving money is just one of the design build advantages State Construction and Materials Engineer Jeff Gower would like to used in his home state of Oregon.

"This bridge went up very quickly," says Gower. "So it was much more speedy than we would see in Oregon for a bridge this size."

Clifford Chen, with the Federal Highway Administration, says the entire nation can learn something from Mississippi's example of doing it right and doing it right now.

"It was a very interesting project for everyone to learn, for the whole country to learn," says Chen. "So I'm going to bring back this information to our division and hope everyone can learn from this."