Weekend crash forces Sunflower River Bridge closure

By THE YAZOO HERALD,
The Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) was forced to close the State Route 12 bridge over the Sunflower River at the Humphreys-Washington county line after it was struck by a truck hauling scrap metal.
The bridge, an old steel truss bridge, was struck by a truck hauling scrap metal. The truck’s load did not have the necessary clearance to cross the bridge safely. The overloaded truck sheared the bridge’s structural steel, leaving a junk vehicle hanging in the trusses.
“This type of crash is all too common for this bridge, and many others like it across the state,” said Transportation Commissioner Dick Hall. “MDOT can only do so much to protect these structures. Log and scrap metal haulers have to recognize and obey height and weight limits. The alternative is the continued closure of important bridges.”
The State Route 12 Sunflower River Bridge has seen its share of damage from overloaded log trucks and scrap metal haulers over the past decade. For many years, the U.S. Highway 82 underpass in Leland presented a challenge to overloaded east-west traffic. Because of the low clearance, many truck drivers used State Route 12 as an alternative route to avoid having to navigate through this area.
The result has been catastrophic to the State Route 12 Sunflower River Bridge. Over the last ten years, MDOT has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars repairing damage caused by these overloaded trucks.
“MDOT has been forced to close this bridge because it is no longer safe for the traveling public,” said Melinda McGrath, MDOT executive director. “This is the second truss bridge that has been hit by an overloaded truck in the last month. Fortunately, the damage the State Route 12 bridge sustained will not require the bridge to be replaced, which means it will not be closed quite as long.”
In late September, MDOT had to close the State Route 57 bridge over Red Creek in Jackson County after a truck hauling a track hoe destroyed the truss section of the bridge, as well as punched holes in the bridge deck. The damage was so extensive that MDOT was forced to expedite a replacement project and close the bridge to traffic until the new bridge is built.
The damage caused by the crash compromised the structural integrity of the State Route 12 Sunflower River Bridge. Therefore, the bridge will remain closed until the necessary repairs have been made and it is deemed safe for travel.
MDOT is currently assessing the extent of the damage and working on repair plans. The repairs involve replacing structural steel in the truss members and lateral bracing of the bridge.
“MDOT understands that this bridge is an important part of the community,” Hall said. “We ask for the public’s patience as we work to make the repairs necessary to open this bridge back up to traffic.”