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Friday, March 12, 2010

Old Vicksburg, Miss., bridge judged 'fair to good'

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February 14, 2001

The U.S. 80 bridge over the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, Miss., remained in "fair-to-good" condition in 2009 - so says an early version of the 80-year-old structure's annual inspection report, according to the Vicksburg Post. Prepared by Baton Rouge-based G.E.C., the report comes to the same conclusion as the previous two assessments.

The bridge, owned by Warren County and operated as a nonprofit business, is now only used by trains. Reports and recommendations on all the bridge's joints, bearings and support piers - in past years, a guide to how much money the Vicksburg Bridge Commission must spend to repair the bridge's trouble spots - are incomplete in the draft report, prompting the five-member panel to withhold official acceptance for at least a month.

One issue is damaged rail track nearest the Louisiana side, west of the steel superstructure. Bolts atop five of the shorter support piers have rusted, causing the railroad to move so much in recent weeks it prompted a visit from Kansas City Southern Railway officials, superintendent Herman Smith said. The commission declared an emergency to have the rail re-anchored. In November, bridge workers repaired eight angle-iron supports under a section of tracks on the Mississippi side.

Though G.E.C. and Kansas City-based HNTB were retained as engineer firms for the purpose of annual checkups and emergency maintenance during routine appointments last month, authorship of the technical analysis shifted to G.E.C. in November when the company's proposal was chosen over a similar offer from HNTB, which had been the bridge's contract structural adviser since the span was built in 1930. The commission had courted G.E.C. since the company hired former HNTB senior technical adviser Rudy McLellan, a key contributor to past inspections of the bridge. The commission pays a maximum of $15,000 for the completion of the annual inspection.