Clay supes won't share bridge money

Staff Writer

A Clay County bridge closed for several months is cleared to reopen, but a supervisor's effort to get some financial help with the project is shot down when his fellow supervisors realize there may not be much money left in the pot for them to share.

County Engineer Bob Calvert told supervisors Caradine Bridge in District 4 has passed inspection and can reopen without any weight limit signs.

The bridge has been closed since a federally mandated inspection late last year.
While that was good news, District 4 Supervisor Shelton Deanes needs some help paying for cost overruns that weren't his fault.

Supervisors originally set aside $32,000 of the county's allocation from the Tombigbee River Valley Water Management District for the project.

Almost $17,000 of that was for timbers and steel and the rest was for labor. When crews got into the project, they realized the pilings were not hitting limestone, a rarity in the western part of Clay County.

To secure the pilings and test them to prove their stability to meet federal standards cost another $32,500.

Thursday, Deanes asked his fellow supervisors to ask the TRVWMD to pay half that and if not half, at least $15,000.

It was the second time in a month Deanes has raised the subject and complained about extra costs that weren't his doing.

Supervisor Luke Lummus originally seconded Deanes' request but once the board started doing the math, members had second thoughts.

The board started out with $69,608 in available funds with the water management agency and spent $32,000 on Caradine Bridge and is spending another $15,000 on U.S. Davidson Bridge, leaving only $22,608.

If another big chunk goes to Deanes' project, that would leave only $7,000 for the rest of the supervisors if they have creeks that need to be cleaned out or help with a bridge.

"More funding is at the discretion of the Tombigbee board. We could get more money next week or it could be five years. We have no way of knowing," Chancery Court Clerk Amy Berry told the members.
"That's why they say use your money wisely," she added.

Realizing they might not have much to go around, Lummus pulled his support.

"I'm just going to have to do it," he told Deanes, who sits next to him at the board table.

"Fair is fair, we've got to share around," Supervisor R.B. Davis noted.
"I'll do what's right and pull the request," Deanes said, nodding his agreement to the others.

Deanes has enough money remaining in his own locally funded bridge money to cover the cost.

In other business Thursday, supervisors:
-- Accepted a $16,010 DUI enforcement grant for the Clay County Sheriff's Department from the state Department of Public Safety.

The grant will help pay overtime costs for extra deputies conducting safety checkpoints during the year;
-- Approved the next round of work on replacing the support walls for the U.S. Davidson Bridge project in Davis' district. T

he small timber bridge was closed by the federal bridge inspections. The bridge is surrounded by timber land owned by Weyerhaeuser.