Lawmakers ponder tax increases, hear dire warning about bridges

Dungan said that of 9,865 bridges on county roads, 310 have been closed to traffic, up from 146 last year. He said he expects the new federally mandated inspections will close hundreds of the 2,000 timber piling bridges across the state.

Sens. Angela Burks Hill, R-Picayune, and Billy Hudson, R-Hattiesburg, bristled at the notion of the federal government taking over inspections from counties. Both said they believe county officials and the engineers they hire carefully inspect roads and bridges. They wondered aloud whether the move was political and-or orchestrated by the Mississippi Department of Transportation and others as part of the push for tax increases for roads and bridges. Hill questioned the extra cost of the federally mandated inspections.

Melinda McGrath, director of the Mississippi Department of Transportation, said her agency “absolutely did not engineer this” and only became aware of the federal inspections of county bridges in March.

Clarion Ledger