Lee County bridge’s history will mean costly delay

Lee County StockBy Robbie Ward
Daily Journal
TUPELO – Members of the Lee County Board of Supervisors didn’t appear thrilled Monday to learn a county bridge closed four months ago for replacement is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.

County engineer Carrson Neal said this new development in the bridge replacement project on County Road 878 will likely require a $15,000 study and delay any further efforts by at least four months.

One supervisor categorized the situation as “bureaucratic organic fertilizer.”

The state Department of Archives and History sent Neal a letter saying demolition isn’t recommended for the bridge a half mile from Highway 371 in the southeast part of the county. The bridge has a steel truss and is thought to have been built before 1950.

Neal said the original estimate for the project was $400,000 but didn’t give an estimate based on this new development. Options related to the bridge could include restoring the bridge or moving it to another location.

“Either way, it’s going to cost more money,” Neal said.

Tim Allred, Lee County road manager, said about 90 vehicles passed on the road each day before it closed for the bridge replacement project.

Supervisor Darrell Rankin didn’t appear impressed with news of possible historical significance of the county bridge.

“I classify this as bureaucratic organic fertilizer,” the supervisor said.

With the current ruling by the state agency, no bids or other action on the project can happen until an architectural historian can document the bridge and provide documentation to the board, the state Historic Preservation Office, National Park Service and the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation as required by the National Historic Preservation Act.

County attorney Gary Carnathan said he would look into alternatives to the study required by the Department of Archives and History.