Godwin: Closing bridge makes sense

Published 12:03 am Tuesday, January 29, 2013



Commission Chairman Bill Godwin said Monday it makes sense – and cents – to close the bridge at the north end of Lloyd Mill Road.

But Commissioner Carl Turman, who represents the area, said he’d agree to the project only if a new road is constructed as an alternate route.

At January’s commission workshop, county engineer Darren Capps told commissioners he’d like to close the more than a mile strip of road that includes an unsafe bridge over Pigeon Creek. Replacement cost is set at $2.5 million, and it would cost an estimated $150,000 to $350,000 to construct a new road alignment.

At the following meeting, commissioners agreed to start the closure process by holding a public hearing in March.

Godwin demonstrated the bridge’s structural issues Monday – pointing out broken guardrails, sagging sections, paving patch jobs and its 3-ton weight limit. Speed limit on the road is 45 mph. Capps said previously the state department of transportation had deemed the bridge safe.

“My questions are, ‘Is this bridge really safe, and what risk is there for the county to keep it open?’ Godwin said. “To me, it (the bridge) is a safety issue.”

Residents use the 1.22-mile road as a cut through to Alabama Hwy. 55, Godwin said. Previously, Capps said that without the bridge or new road alignment, residents would have to travel 8.9 miles to access the state highway.

“There isn’t any money to replace that bridge, and nowhere to get help from to do it,” Godwin said, pointing out that money spent on the project could be used elsewhere.

“I think we could help other areas of the county so much more,” he said.

During the last commission meeting, Turman said the bridge is dangerous and that many residents do not like to use the bridge.

On Monday, he said he’d agree to the closure only if an alternate route is made available.

“I don’t think it needs to be closed,” Turman said of the bridge at first. “I think it’s workable. The problem we’re having is those big trucks. They don’t pay attention to the (weight-limit) signs. They come right on across. If they weren’t coming across, the bridge would keep a good long while yet.”

Then Turman said, “But I’m in favor of closing it, if there’s an alternate route. We’ll give the public a hearing on what’s best. Then, what we have to do is go by the engineer’s statement.”

Residents are encouraged to attend the public hearing set for March 14.