Officials determine cause of Mississippi highway collapse that killed 2, injured 9; ready to begin repairs

Published 5:56 am Sunday, September 26, 2021

Mississippi will soon start rebuilding a section of highway that collapsed during torrential rainfall brought by Hurricane Ida, the head of the state Department of Transportation says.

Two people were killed and nine were injured Aug. 30 as seven vehicles plunged, one after another, into a deep pit that opened up on the dark, rural stretch of Mississippi Highway 26 near Lucedale. One of the injured people died in a hospital Sept. 11.

Department of Transportation Director Brad White told legislative budget writers Friday that the department has completed a geotechnical review and will choose a company early next month to repair the damage for about $1.2 million.

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He said the highway could reopen in about 45 days.

White said the area had already received more than double its average annual rainfall before the hurricane, and then Ida dumped more than 12 inches  of rain in less than one day. The stretch of highway is on a hillside, and White said the deluge blew out a pipe that ran under the roadbed.

“I don’t know of any preventative maintenance that could’ve been done prior to the storm,” White said.