- Associated Press - Saturday, May 3, 2014

MCCOMB, Miss. (AP) - Two planned bridges over Topisaw Creek will improve travel safety but curtail public access to the stream.

The Enterprise-Journal reported (http://bit.ly/1i7eOlW) Pike County supervisors plan to replace the bridge on Leatherwood Road soon, followed by the bridge on Brent Road.

The new bridges will do away with narrow gravel roads that lead underneath, so people will no longer be able to drive under the bridges to launch kayaks, canoes or inner tubes. Nor is parking feasible on the narrow road shoulders near the bridges.

County engineer Chad Toles said supervisors will open bids May 15 on the Leatherwood bridge project. The contractor will have about a year to do the work.

Two other bridges over Topisaw Creek, at Turnpike Road and Mississippi Highway 44, already lack road access under the bridge or available parking space nearby.

Supervisors plan to close Leatherwood Road between Pike Road 93 and Matthews Road soon because of safety issues, Toles said. The bridge is posted at 10,000 pounds but is still used by heavy trucks.

Currently, a narrow gravel lane leads alongside Leatherwood bridge to the creek. At Brent’s Bridge, a steep, narrow lane leads beside the bridge but is severely eroded.

Board of supervisors President Chuck Lambert said those lanes were meant for maintenance on the wooden bridges, not boater access. Since the new bridges will be concrete, county workers will no longer have to drive underneath them.

“We won’t have wooden pilings and we won’t need it,” Lambert said of the access roads. “We needed to make sure emergency vehicles could get under the bridge because of the wooden pilings.”

Canoe rental companies that use the Leatherwood bridge can’t use the site during construction.

After the bridge is complete, they will have to drop people off on the road and let them walk down to the creek, Lambert said.

Michele Ryals of Ryals Canoe & Tube Rentals said the restricted access will have some impact on business.

Outfitters put customers in at Leatherwood Road, where they float half a mile to the Bogue Chitto River and another 21/2 miles to U.S. Highway 98, where there is a boat ramp, or two miles farther to the Bogue Chitto Water Park ramp.

An alternative float is on the Bogue Chitto River from Holmesville bridge to U.S. Highway 98 four miles downstream or on to the water park.

“That’s going to hurt a little bit because the float from Holmesville to the water park or 98 is a rather long float, and Topisaw to the water park is actually the perfect float,” Ryals said, referring to tubers.

“People weren’t on there long enough to get burned out with it or, actually, sunburned,” Ryals said.


Information from: Enterprise-Journal, http://www.enterprise-journal.com



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