The bridge spanning Gum Creek in Pearl River has been closed for more than two years, but work could begin soon on a replacement, Mayor David McQueen says.
McQueen told The St. Tammany Farmer on Wednesday that the last piece of private property needed to construct the bridge was acquired last week. In all, the town purchased six small parcels, which McQueen said were necessary to slightly widen and lengthen the span on the La. 41 Spur road.
When totaled, the property might equal 1 acre of land, the mayor said, adding that one pie-shaped piece was a mere 12 feet long by 7 feet wide. Still, it took months to reach agreements with several property owners.
Inspectors shut down the bridge on April 6, 2017, after deeming it unfit for vehicular traffic. McQueen said he was told structural support of the bridge was in poor condition and that a replacement span was necessary.
About $2.3 million was allocated by the state in 2015 to build a new Gum Creek Bridge, McQueen said, but work on that project never began. Now, he said he has been assured by state officials that up to $3 million is available to finally get the project started.
Pearl River will pay about $50,000, McQueen said, including about $12,000 for the property, with the remainder covering costs for abstracts, surveys and fees to file the paperwork with the parish Clerk of Court's office.
It's money well spent, said the mayor, who made getting the bridge replaced a top priority for his second term at Town Hall.
"This is going to take a load off the traffic around here, especially when school is letting in and out," McQueen said. "About 1,500 to 2,000 cars crossed that bridge every day, and since it's been out, all of that traffic has piled up on (La. 41.) That has people dealing with a red light and three school zones."
The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development will oversee construction of the bridge.
McQueen said bids could be let out as early as June 1.