Report: 1 in 10 bridges in Mississippi are structurally deficient

Published 12:19 pm Friday, May 21, 2021

The I-40 bridge closure in Memphis has refocused attention on the condition of bridges in neighboring states, including Mississippi.

The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) says about 1 in 10 bridges in Mississippi are structurally deficient.

The group gave Mississippi a “D+” rating in its most recent infrastructure report card.

On its website, the ASCE says that Mississippi has 17,072 bridges. More than 400 timber pile bridges have been closed to the public since 2018, when the federal government determined these structures had been insufficiently inspected and posed a risk to the traveling public.

A total of 3,127 of Mississippi’s bridges are weight-restricted; some are posted for a four-ton load, approximately the average weight of a pick-up truck.

To address safety concerns, the Mississippi Legislature convened a special session in August 2018 and voted to provide approximately $100 million annually for bridge maintenance and rehabilitation. While this additional funding is helpful, it does not come close to addressing the $1.6 billion funding gap for bridges in the state or reversing the years of underinvestment.

The state’s gas tax, for instance, which helps pay for the upkeep of roads and bridges, hasn’t been raised in over 30 years.

Even before the closure of the I-40 bridge, infrastructure was dominating the conversation in the nation’s capital as Congress considers an infrastructure proposal from President Joe Biden.