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Mississippi preps to repair highway collapse from Ida

Mississippi preps to repair highway collapse from Ida
Part of Highway 26 washed away due to heavy rains from Hurricane Ida in the Benndale community in George County, Mississippi. (Hannah Ruhoff/The Sun Herald via AP)

JACKSON, Miss. — Mississippi will soon start rebuilding a section of highway that collapsed during torrential rainfall brought by Hurricane Ida, the head of the state Department of Transportation says.

Two people were killed and nine were injured Aug. 30 as seven vehicles plunged, one after another, into a deep pit that opened up on the dark, rural stretch of Mississippi Highway 26 near Lucedale. One of the injured people died in a hospital Sept. 11.

Department of Transportation Director Brad White told legislative budget writers Friday that the department has completed a geotechnical review and will choose a company early next month to repair the damage for about $1.2 million. He said the highway could reopen in about 45 days.

White said the area had already received more than double its average annual rainfall before the hurricane, and then Ida dumped more than 12 inches (30.5 centimeters) of rain in less than one day. The stretch of highway is on a hillside, and White said the deluge blew out a pipe that ran under the roadbed.

“I don’t know of any preventative maintenance that could’ve been done prior to the storm,” White said.

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