Mississippi repairs, reopens highway that collapsed, killing 2 people, injuring 9

Published 6:45 am Thursday, November 11, 2021

Mississippi has finished repairing section of highway that collapsed during torrential rainfall brought by Hurricane Ida, and the road reopened Wednesday.

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.

The Mississippi Department of Transportation awarded a $1.8 million repair contract in October. A construction company met the department’s goal of getting the highway back open safely and quickly, southern district Transportation Commissioner Tom King said in a news release Wednesday.

“I know how important Highway 26 is for the region, and I appreciate all the work that went into getting it open ahead of schedule,” King said.

Department of Transportation Director Brad White told legislators in September that the area had already received more than double its average annual rainfall before the hurricane, and then Ida dumped more than 12 inches (30 centimeters) 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.

King said work will continue until early 2022 as crews repave routes that were used as detours while the stretch of highway was closed.