Meridian Star

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March 21, 2013

Bridge project still on schedule

MERIDIAN —     Despite a deluge of rain so far this year, Joe McGee is happy to say the construction schedule on the Highway 11/80 bridge project in Meridian is still on schedule to be completed in a couple of months.

    But he stressed Mother Nature has to be somewhat more cooperative than she has been so far this year.

    "It has been tough," said McGee, who has been in the construction business for more than 32 years. "The weather has made construction projects of any kind, be it a house or a bridge, very challenging. We are OK in terms of our schedule but we don't need anymore rain, that's for sure."

    The $732,000 project is a state aid paid project, said McGee. He said the Mississippi Department of Transportation does a good job of handling these sorts of projects that improve the infrastructure and transportation arteries of the state.

    McGee said the heavy support beams and girders will be going in the next several days with the main concrete deck to follow soon after. McGee said the county will be getting a bridge that will last for decades once the work is completed.

    "The old bridge was just standing on a promise," McGee said with a chuckle. "It was in bad shape. I'm glad we were able to get in here and get this work started."

    The State Aid Program overseen by MDOT endeavors to help counties to keep their vital roadways running smoothly by providing funding for such projects. McGee said working alongside the Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, the program targets high risk issues such as old bridges. McGee said the supervisors then work alongside local engineers to put a proposal together that has to meet strict criteria. Once that is done MDOT signs off on the project and bids for the work are made public.

    "Each project is a challenge but at the same time they are rewarding in that they are ensuring the transportation system of the state," said McGee. "I can drive around the state and see the projects we've done in the past and it is a source of pride for us."

    Once the bridge construction is completed, McGee said the work isn't done. He said the smallest details, such as erosion control in the form of silt fences and cover grass around the construction area must be in place and approved before he can turn the project ownership over the members of the board of supervisors.

    "My daddy, who got me into this business, told me there are two good days. One when you get the job and another when you hand it over to the new guys," McGee said laughing. "Everything in between is tough. But it is a good kind of tough, I guess."

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