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Bridge officially opens in Itawamba County

Reported by: Susan Parker
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Updated: 8/23/2013 6:51 pm
OZARK COMMUNITY, Miss. (WTVA) -- Bryan Beasley uses Walker's bridge to access the Tennessee Tombigbee Waterway as do scores of others in rural Itawamba County.

"I mean it sure makes it easy on all of us around here to get our boats in and out of the water or even coming down here hunting and fishing," says Beasley.

That's a habit that was temporarily put on hold earlier this year when county officials were forced to close the bridge.

Some continued to cross the bridge after barriers were torn down.

The problem began when the bridge failed to meet federal guidelines, a reality that can result in a loss of funding.

"It was pretty touch and go for a little while.  Everybody was a little bit aggravated about having to go all the way around to Fulton to put the boats in at Peppertown so it was definitely aggravating," Beasley added.

No one knows that better than the man who represents this district, Ike Johnson.

He felt the pressure of thousands of signatures calling for a solution.

He eventually came up with a plan. 

The new bridge is a rail car without the wheels.

New pylons support the rail car.

It is several feet above the old bridge that was built in 1923, and it is still visible underneath.

"I'm really excited about this thing. I know it's going to make a lot of folks happy. That's what I'm glad about," Johnson said.

"The original estimate for a new bridge was $1 million.

Supervisors were able to spend just $40,000.

"Well, this is good for the people in this area. As a matter of fact, two guys just came through and almost hugged my neck," Itawamba County Administrator Gary Franks said.

"People come from all over here fishing. It's just a blessing to us," Ozark Community resident Matt Guin said.

"It really amazes me. I was tickled. I wanted to just holler. The people that's coming through here, they're tickled with it. Some have been fishing. I look for a crowd to be over here in a few days," Johnson added.

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