Posted December 6, 2018
The Mississippi Department of Transportation says the One Lake Project proposal would result in the "catastrophic failure" of bridges on the Pearl River if allowed to proceed as planned.
In a September email to the key sponsor of the project, the Rankin-Hinds Pearl River Flood & Drainage Control District, MDOT said the proposed dredging of the river would weaken the foundation of nine bridges in the project area, possibly leading to collapse.
MDOT said the district's engineering reports would lead to the "catastrophic failure of all seven of the main channel bridges" and "severely" reduce the capacity of relief bridges in the project area.
MDOT's concerns add to the chorus of critics of the project that would require state and federal funds.
The project goal of One Lake, promoted as a flood control project, is the dredging and excavation of the Pearl River to widen, deepen and straighten seven miles of the waterway that would reinforce the existing levee system. It would also allow for the development of waterfront property along a newly created 1,500-acre lake.
"If dredging activities are conducted beneath any of the nine bridges, it will reduce foundation embedment directly affecting the capacity of the bridges...If dredging activities are conducted upstream and downstream of any of the nine bridges but not under the bridges, a collapse due to sudden loss of the non-dredged material could occur," MDOT said.
The affected bridges are two main channel bridges and two relief bridges on Lakeland Drive, two main channel bridges on I-55, two main channel bridges on I-20 and one main channel bridge on U.S. 80, according to MDOT.
MDOT made its conclusion after reviewing the district's Integrated Draft Feasibility Study and Environmental Impact Statement. The statement, which is required by federal law, analyzes and discloses potential effects of flood risk management projects.
In the email, MDOT says that given its findings the project should include the cost of replacing all nine bridges.
That would significantly increase the proposed $340 million project by upwards of $100 million, according to median cost estimates for new bridge construction from the Federal Department of Transportation.
"The (district) is aware of MDOT’s concerns and is working with them to address the issues outlined in their letter," Keith Turner, attorney for the flood control district, said in an email.
Source: Clarion Ledger