County closes bridge

Published 1:37 am Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Engineer details safety issues of 88-year-old bridge

The Covington County Commission adopted a resolution Tuesday morning prioritizing finding an alternative route for or replacing the Pigeon Creek Bridge on Lloyd Mill Road.

But the meeting was hardly over before County Engineer Lynn Ralls the bridge was closed. While Ralls alluded to his recommendation that the bridge be closed in a presentation he made before a public hearing on the matter Tuesday morning, it was not clear that the action would be immediate.

“We had the state bridge team come down recently to back up our recommendation to close this bridge,” Ralls said. “And they were at the same agreement we were as far as this. I’m only doing this out of the necessity of public safety. I know that it is an inconvenience for everyone in this room, but public safety is our concern here in the road department and I cannot stand the thought of even one loss of life on this bridge.”

Ralls said that there are several log trucks that cross the bridge despite the bridge being posted with a weight limit that would not support log trucks.

“There are several log trucks that cross it, and it doesn’t take but one log truck to go across this bridge and break it in,” Ralls said. “Then one unknown driver could come up and actually fall off into this bridge.”

Ralls prepared a 12-slide PowerPoint to illustrate how bad the infrastructure on the bridge was and to show the three potential alternative routes for local traffic.

“There are 89 spliced wooden piles,” Ralls said. “There are piles with severe decay, piles shifting out of girders and piles that are spliced. The bridge is 88 years old and is in very bad shape.”

The possible alternative routes are not set in stone, but county officials will meet with state highway officials, as well as Rep. Mike Jones and Sen. Jimmy Holley to seek funding for one of the routes.

“The current route with the bridge, from Berry Road, is approximately 1.74 miles,” Ralls said. “The first alternative route would be 3.27 miles from Berry Road, the second would be 4.13 from Berry Road and the third which is our very last option, is 5.68 miles from Berry Road.”

Ralls said the proposed alternative routes are charted on timberland.

The bridge was closed at noon Tuesday, September 11, according to an announcement from the engineer’s office provided to WAAO. The Star-News, which had a reporter at the commission meeting, did not receive the notification.

“The bridge will be closed until further notice. All signs and barricades are posted in accordance with regulations. If anyone has any questions, please feel free to call the Covington County Engineers Office at 334-428-2620,” the announcement stated.