Some N’siders enjoying closed bridgesBy ANTHONY WARREN,
John Sewell definitely knows how to turn lemons into lemonade.
He even knows how to turn a closed bridge into a volleyball court.
For months, the bridge next to his home on Hawthorn Drive has been closed.
While the closure has caused headaches for some drivers, Sewell and his family have enjoyed it, particularly because it has turned the busy roadway in front of their home into a dead-end street.
“It’s the greatest traffic-calming I’ve seen around the city,” he said. “I tell my kids to go play in the street now.”
Sewell, his wife and three kids have reveled in the closure. They’ve decorated the “bridge out” barricade with outdoor Christmas lights. They’ve also used the barricade as a makeshift volleyball net.
“We’re making lemonade here,” he said.
Phillip Thomas has similar feelings about the bridge closure on Cavalier Drive.
“It’s much safer for kids going up and down (the street) on bicycles, and we’ve got a lot of them,” he said.
Thomas, who has a 12-year-old daughter, said he’s much less worried about her riding her bike now that the bridge has closed off a portion of the road. “It’s (been) turned into a cul-de-sac. It’s been a lot nicer for pedestrian traffic.”
However, the peace and quiet along at least one of those streets could soon come to an end.
Jackson hopes to bring on a design firm to draw up repair plans for the Hawthorn bridge later this month.
Public works has reviewed statements of qualifications on file and is expected to take a recommendation to the Jackson City Council for consideration in time for its July 19 meeting.
The recommendation will come months after the state forced the several structures across the capital city to be shut down for safety reasons.
In April, the Mississippi Office of State Aid Road Construction ordered the city to shut down seven bridges, four of which were on the Northside.
In addition to Hawthorn and Cavalier, the city shut down the Woodway Drive bridge between North State Street and Manhattan Road, and the Colonial Circle bridge between Orchardview Drive and Old Canton.
The Hawthorn bridge is located in the road’s 3000 block, between Sherwood and Robin drives. The Cavalier bridge is located between Old Canton Road and Wood Dale Drive.
The city was directed to close the structures due to “issues found with timber piles, headwalls and/or other timber components on each bridge.”
Timber piles are the wooden poles that hold up the bridges. Headwalls are structures used to maintain the road formations around the bridges and to help prevent erosion.
The Hawthorn, Cavalier and Woodway bridges all run over Eubanks Creek.
Also, that month, the city closed the Meadowbrook Road bridge between East Ridge and Berlin drives.
That bridge was shut down after city inspections found an infestation of termites in the wood pilings.
The Colonial Drive bridge has since been repaired and reopened.
And In June, Jackson brought on Myriad Engineering Solutions in Terry to draw up plans for the Meadowbrook bridge, as well as bridges along Cherokee Drive and Chippewa Circle.
Bridges at Cherokee and Chippewa have not been closed, but pilings under those structures need to be replaced to prevent closings, according to city inspections.
The contract was for approximately $107,000 and was approved by the council on a 5-0 vote.
Myriad will assess the bridges, determine if nearby utilities would impact the work and come up with estimates for the project.
Initial plans are to replace the timber pilings under each bridge with new box culverts.
Box culverts will be less expensive and easier to install. Replacing the pilings with new pilings would require complete bridge reconstruction and would lead to similar problems in the future, according to Engineer Manager Charles Williams.
It was not known how much the replacements would cost.
The Meadowbrook bridge was traveled by about 3,400 vehicles a day prior to its closure. Traffic has been re-routed along nearby residential streets. Traffic counts were not available for other streets.
As for the Hawthorne bridge, Sewell said the city can take its time in repairing it. “It’s kind of a blessing in disguise, not having the traffic and speeding cars and all of that.”