Bude asks county to help with old bridge

by Nicole Stokes

Town of Bude representatives approached the Franklin County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Feb. 21 with a plea to help repair or replace a wooden bridge.
With the opening of a new sawmill in Bude in the near future, the bridge — which is one of the main ways in to and out of the site — is seeing a great deal of truck traffic and will see even more once the industry is fully open for business.
Bude Mayor Linda Green said something needed to be done to the old bridge, located adjacent to the railroad track and Franklin County School District bus barn, sooner rather than later as the business is hoping to be up and running within the next six weeks.

Mary Katheryn Williamson, who serves as attorney for the Bude Board of Aldermen, also spoke on behalf of the town.

“We’re excited, I don’t know if y’all have been through there, but it looks wonderful,” she said of the mill site.

“They’re getting ready to start operations. I don’t know if there’s an official date yet, but one thing holding them back is that bridge is just bad. They came to us asking for help so that they can operate, and we’re here asking you guys for help with it.”

The panel asked county engineer Mike McKenzie to weigh in on the discussion, and he brought up the possibility of applying for funding through the Mississippi Development Authority.

“We have talked about (the situation before), with it being in town it’s just a question of what degree the county wants to get involved in it,” he said.
“I had mentioned in passing one time (that) Mississippi Development Authority economic development funds are available when you have an industry come in. That’s something that could be looked at — just depending on how quickly they’re trying to run loads across this bridge.

“That would be one way of getting some help through the state. Now, it’s always strings attached on that money, as far as if the industry is going to put up a certain amount of capital improvements in the mill (and) if they’re going to have a certain amount of jobs.”

District 4 Supervisor Pat Larkin said the incoming industry has already pretty much met those requirements.
Supervisors’ attorney Bill Halford and McKenzie brought up that the bridge is likely located on railroad right-of-way, and Larkin went on to say the bridge has water lines, sewer lines and possibly gas lines running under it as well.

In addition, Halford stated the sawmill would not be cut off from access in the event the bridge becomes unusable, as there is another route to get into the facility.

“Long story short, we’re not telling y’all ‘No’ — we’re trying to figure out the correct way to do it before we proceed forward,” Larkin said.

Williamson then asked who needed to apply for MDA funding — the county or the town.
McKenzie said either entity could do so, and Larkin said it would probably look better if both the county and the town submitted something together.
District 5 Supervisor Jimmie “Bodi” Bass, who also serves as president of the county board, suggested that, as the bridge is located within the corporate limits of Bude, the town should begin the application process and county leaders could include a letter expressing and supporting the need for funding for this particular project.

The panel also voted to have McKenzie do a cost estimate on the bridge project to be included with the grant application submission.