HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WHLT) – Forrest County is getting anew addition to its infrastructure with a new East Hardy Street bridge.
Set to be ready by Fall of 2022, the $20 million project has been funded by the state delegation and the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT). The 70-year-old bridge connects Hattiesburg to Petal over the Leaf River, where thousands travel over it daily.
Leaders said the old bridge had issues with its foundation. While construction is being done, traffic will continue because the old bridge will not be demolished.
“There were discussions about demolishing the old bridge and building the new bridge in the old bridge’s place, but there was concern about people being able to ingress and egress from Hattiesburg and Petal. And the decision was made to just to build a new bridge leave the existing bridge in place,” said Forrest County Supervisor David Hogan.
Leaders said if the decision wasn’t made to keep the existing bridge open, people would have had to drive five miles or more out of their way to get around. They also said keeping the bridge in place was a good decision for emergency response crews.
The two lane bridge will be decked out with lighting, a pedestrian walk and artwork. The old bridge will be repurposed as a tourist and resident attraction, housing a food truck park and seasonal festivities.