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Two Mississippi Counties sue Governor Bryant over bridge closures

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Two Mississippi Counties are suing Governor Phil Bryant, the Mississippi Department of Transportation, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, and the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency after the Governor declared a state of emergency and closed more than 100 bridges in the state.

The lawsuit was filed in the Hinds County Court on Thursday and a statement from Attorney J.D. Sanford, with Marc E. Brand and Associates, says both Smith and Jasper Counties are involved in the lawsuit which cites hardships for communities and citizens that were caused by the closing of the bridges.

RELATED: Governor Bryant declares state of emergency, closes 106 bridges


Read the full statement below:

“The lawsuit filed today on behalf of Jasper and Smith counties is in response to the Governor’s proclamation declaring a state of emergency and directing the department of transportation, aided by the department of public safety, to close these county controlled and maintained bridges without notice to county officials and numerous residences of those counties.  The closing of these bridges has caused significant and widespread hardship to the citizens of these counties.
These hardships include: the re-routing of school buses which has caused inconveniences to parents and their children; the increased risk to the citizens in the event of emergency medical needs and the ability of emergency personnel to respond to those needs; law enforcement being able to respond to emergency situations; and fire and rescue personnel being delayed in the event of a catastrophic fire.  In addition, it is causing harm to industries who are required to use these bridges for the purposes of delivering and picking up services and goods produced in these specific counties.  The county bridges are routinely inspected by public and private engineers for these counties who have not deemed these bridges to be a hazard to the motoring public within these counties.
The State of Mississippi has consistently failed to meet the needs of the counties and municipalities of this state by providing finances aid and assistance in repairing and maintaining infrastructure.  The emergency declaration was not well thought out, planned, or implemented to address the issues presented by the infrastructure in these counties, but was used to hastily and in an unsafe manner, block these bridges from use. The blocking of these bridges has adversely affected the citizens and industry in these counties.  It is the Counties’ belief that the closing of these bridges was motivated by politics, not by the concern for the traveling public’s safety and well-being.”
Governor Bryant responded to the lawsuit saying he did his job to protect Mississippians.
“These bridges had been deemed by independent inspectors as unsafe for the motoring public,” Bryant said. “I refuse to sit idly by and risk loss of life. Had counties done their job, I would not have had to exercise my authority, which will protect the very people who elected these supervisors. Ensuring public safety will remain my top priority, and I will not hesitate to do all in my power to carry out that mission.”

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