Two state representatives visited with county leaders last week to discuss available funding that could be used to repair the nine bridges closed by the federal government.
Representatives Deborah Dixon and Kevin Ford were invited to the Yazoo County Board of Supervisors meeting Friday morning after a concerned citizen began making calls to see what could be done to tackle the recent bridge closures in Yazoo County.
James Parker, whose property is located near the Hilderbrand Road bridge, appeared before the county board to begin a discussion on acquiring funding for the massive overall bridge projects. He is particularly concerned about the Hilderbrand Road bridge closure, which is estimated to cost about $800,000 to repair.
“I am not really here to point fingers or be aggressive about why that bridge got in the situation it was in,” Parker said. “It’s obvious there is a lot of funding problems with just doing the routine, average, everyday things.”
Parker’s concern comes just days after Gov. Phil Bryant ordered 83 bridges throughout the state be closed immediately. Those bridges have been found to be deficient by the National Bridge Inspection Standards and the Office of State Aid Road Construction.
There are nine bridges within Yazoo County that will need to be repaired to meet federal standards.
Parker said he began contacting different people within state government about what could be done to resolve the situation, mainly with the Hilderbrand Road closure.
“I got very little information,” Parker said.
But Parker said he did receive a lot of helpful information from Rep. Dixon, who joined him during Friday’s meeting.
“She was all over it like a duck on a June bug,” Parker said. “She was very interested and forthcoming. She expressed a lot of concern about our bridge. She indicated that she was going to get to work to try to generate some funds to help us fix Yazoo County.”
Dixon added that about $805,000 has been allocated to help repair the Hilderbrand Road bridge. She also said there is about $50,000 available through bonds that came be tapped into as well.
Dixon said it all boils down to paperwork.
“But as soon as you get the paperwork in, by us being elected officials, we can work with state aid,” Dixon said. “It’s up to you. It’s just a paperwork process.”
Rep. Ford, who also attended Friday’s meeting, said the state Local System Bridge Program will also have $50 million available as soon as July.
“We put $50 million in that program this year,” Ford said. “It usually has $20 million in it. Last year, we didn’t fund it all. Apply for everything you can and see what you can get. But we have $50 million in there. It’s never been that high.”
Larry Dixon, county engineer, said he has completed the necessary paperwork to submit for state aid. He said he began the process in early March when the county board approved some bridge repairs.
But Dixon said she did not see Yazoo County’s paperwork in the state aid office.
“Your paperwork is not in,” she said. “I have already checked. The paperwork is being held up here in Yazoo.”
Chancery Clerk Quint Carver said the paperwork had come to a halt due to the board minutes being incomplete because of an error with the Central Mississippi Planning and Development District’s redistricting map.
The county board agreed to resolve the error with CMPDD, thus completing the minutes and pushing the paperwork through to the state.
“We will do whatever we can to move it along,” Ford said.