County: 6 months for new route

Published 1:34 am Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Man so upset by answer, deputy removes him from room

Covington County Commissioners say they are making progress on the Pigeon Creek Bridge issue, but that wasn’t enough for a disgruntled citizen who was escorted out by the sheriff’s department after making a scene at the commission’s regular meeting Tuesday.

County engineer Lynn Ralls said that he has been working on finding an alternate route for travelers who normally use Pigeon Creek Bridge. The county closed the bridge earlier this month.

“I flew my drone over the area and will work on drawing up a design late this afternoon [Tuesday.]” Ralls said. “I’m supposed to meet with someone next week to ride the alignment.”

Chairman Greg White said that the commission has been talking with the Alabama Department of Transportation to try and find funding for an alternate route.

“We have had conversation with ALDOT about a source of funding,” White said. “But the commission has not taken the official action to identify what we will do. When we get these options cleared up, then we will come back to the commission meeting and take official action and you will know exactly what will be going on at that time.”

The citizen, who was escorted out, was concerned that if the bridge was closed then a meth lab would be built under the bridge. He also expressed concern that the commission would use any funds allocated for the project somewhere else instead of building an alternate route or replacing the bridge.

“When you do away with the bridge, you build a meth lab,” He said. “The second thing is, the state has already signed off on having the money. You have had 20 years to fix this and it still nothing has been done.”

White then explained that he does not want to misspeak or get ahead of the governor or the director of transportation.

“We know exactly what commitments have been made and we are working closely with the state to make the appropriate announcements when they are ready,” White said. “It is their money and if they are going to spend their money then they will make the announcement when they are ready.”

Commissioner Joe Barton expressed concern that someone is destroying the barricades in front of the closed bridge.

“Somebody went up and destroyed the barricades,” Barton said. “Those roads are used on the GPS, and if someone is coming down with a GPS and they don’t see those barricades, because somebody don’t want the barricades there, then you’re putting someone’s life in jeopardy.”

White said that the commission has a great concern about the barricades being torn down.

“We put up barricades and signs notifying traffic of the closed bridge,” White said. “We have to go up there seven days a week to check the signs and barricades. If they are not there, then that employee has to bring in replacement barricades or find the old ones, so we strongly encourage folks to be considerate of their neighbors and friends that don’t know that barricades were there. We will take appropriate action to resolve that problem.”

Ralls said if an alternate route were put in and they were able to get a right of way acquisition within 30 to 45 days, then it would take roughly six months to complete the alternate route.

After the meeting was adjourned, the citizen was still arguing with commissioners and was asked to leave the building by Chief Deputy David Anderson.

The commission also:

  • Approved expanding the Florala Airport Authority Board to five members.
  • Reappointed Ricky Suggs to the Florala Airport Authority Board and appointed Wayne Eason to the board.
  • Approved the surplus and purchase of vehicles for the sheriff’s department.
  • Approved a contract with Long Term Detention Subsidy.
  • Approved a disposal method for previous surplus of vehicles.
  • Approved amendments to the FY 2018 budget.