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Contractor to Restart Construction on New Bay St. Louis Bridge
Accident Investigation Continuing

by Keith Burton - GCN    6/18/07

Contractors building the new Bay St. Louis bridge are expected to restart construction Tuesday, according to Southern District Highway Commissioner Wayne Brown. Work on the bridge was halted June 14 after a tragic construction accident that killed two workers and seriously injured seven others when a concrete form for a piling collapsed and the scaffolding the men were on that was attached to the form fell into the bay.

"I really appreciate this company stopping construction to review their safety procedures," Brown said. "The federal safety officials are continuing their investigation into the accident."

The Mississippi Department of Transportation, which awarded the $266.8 million bridge construction contract, has had little to say about the accident. Brown said that the design-build contract with the contractor "does not provide the normal global authority" on what is going on.

"We are kind-of on the periphery" Brown told GCN.

Two lanes of the bridge are open and traffic is continuing. Shortly after the accident, the lanes were closed to allow for emergency workers to conduct rescue operations. Brown said that accident investigators are conducting an in-depth inquiry into the incident.

The Department of Labor in Atlanta reports that an investigation into the accident is underway by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and that OSHA has six months to complete their work.

The actual cause of the accident has yet to be determined. The entire bridge is contracted to be completed by November of this year.

So far, three people have been killed in connection with the work on the new Bay St. Louis bridge. Another worker was killed in March in a tender-boat accident.

When completed, the new bridge will have four 12-foot-wide lanes (two in each direction) separated by a concrete median barrier, with an eight-foot-wide inside shoulder and a 10-foot-wide outside shoulder.  It will also feature a 12-foot-wide shared use path for pedestrians and cyclists alongside the eastbound vehicle lanes.  The new structure has approximately 85 feet of vertical clearance to accommodate marine traffic.

 

The bridge is one of two being built to service U.S. 90 that were destroyed by hurricane Katrina in 2005.  The other bridge is over the Biloxi Back Bay between Biloxi and Ocean Springs. Brown says that project is slightly ahead of schedule. Two lanes are contracted to open on the Biloxi bridge November 13.

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