Historic Lafayette County bridge up for sale

By Alyssa Schnugg/The Oxford Eagle

ABBEVILLE — If a steel truss bridge is just the thing you were looking for to go over your backyard pond, the Mississippi Department of Transportation has one up for grabs.

The MDOT is offering the Mississippi Highway 7 Tallahatchie River Steel Truss Bridge to anyone who wants to relocate it to another spot.

Built in 1953, the three-span through truss bridge, just north of Abbeville in Lafayette County, has been determined to be eligible for the National Register of Historic Places by the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

MDOT released plans earlier this year to remove the old bridge and replace it with a newer, wider bridge. The replacement bridge will be a concrete span bridge with shoulders on both sides of the road. It will be built on the west side of the current bridge. The old train bridge is not being taken down.

However, according to federal law, before the demolition of a historic bridge, states must sell or donate the bridge to an interested party who will agree to accept title for, preserve the historic integrity of, and assume the financial and legal responsibility for the continued maintenance of the bridge.

MDOT engineer Mitch Turner said the agency is looking for proposals from interested parties and organizations that include a plan for removal of the steel truss that complies with federal regulations and that permits an allowable timetable for the removal of the bridge.

Turner said when MDOT plans to demolish or remove a structure, officials check with the National Register of Historic Places before demolition.

“We make them aware of construction projects and we fund the research to determine effects on historic places, structures …,” he said.

Interested parties may submit Relocation and Preservation Proposals which will be reviewed by the MDAH, the Federal Highway Administration and MDOT.

MDOT will reimburse the person or organization taking the bridge the cost of relocation, provided it does not exceed the estimated cost of the demolition as determined by MDOT. The new owner will be required to preserve and maintain the structure and its historically significant architecture elements.

Since owning a 60-year-old steel truss bridge may not be on everyone’s shopping list, if there are no takers, Turner said plans to construct the new bridge will not change.

“(If no one applies) the department will be forced to demolish the bridge in accordance with federal regulations,” Turner said. “Whether it is donated and moved or demolished, we will move forward with construction of the new bridge.”

MDOT will open bids in January from contractors vying to win the job of replacing the bridge. Turner said the job is estimated to cost about $12 million, but final figures won’t be known until after the bids have been opened.

Funding for the new bridge will be 80 percent from federal funds and 20 percent from MDOT.

The land where the bridge is built is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers which gave MDOT permission to replace the bridge.