Valdosta Daily Times

Local News

May 26, 2009

Bridges Out

Two bridges remain closed, one re-opens

Three bridges have remained closed following the flooding in South Georgia this past April. However, one of the bridges is scheduled to re-open today.

Staten Road Bridge in Lowndes County should re-open today. There will be a ribbon cutting ceremony at 10 a.m., according to the Lowndes County Commission.

Skipper Bridge Road in Lowndes County and Miller Bridge in Brooks County remain closed.

Miller Bridge, also called Lawson Pond Bridge, that crosses the Little River on the Morven-Hahira Road remains closed indefinitely, said Mark Deatcher, Brooks County road superintendent. Deatcher said massive scouring underneath the bridge undermined the structure.

“The bridge was completely underwater,” Deatcher said. “All the hydraulics going on from all that water lifted a lot of the sand and soil out from around the pylons that support the bridge.”

Deatcher said the bridge might be safe enough for cars to cross, but larger trucks might be too heavy. It’s unreasonable, he said, to expect local law enforcement to babysit the bridge and determine who could safely cross.

The Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have both examined the bridge twice, he said, and are working with the Georgia Department of Transportation to figure out how to proceed, but have not yet determined where the money will come from, nor how best to repair the bridge to ensure it remains serviceable well into the future.

“Folks will just have to be patient,” he said.

Lawson Pond Bridge is the last bridge in Brooks County to remain closed, with the exception of Hempstead Church Road Bridge, which falls under the jurisdiction of Cook County, he said.

In Lowndes County, Skipper Bridge Road remains closed. Lowndes County Engineer Mike Fletcher said Lowndes County has forwarded funding requests to FEMA, the Georgia DOT and the governor’s office. Preliminary estimates to repair and/or replace the bridge range between $2 million to $3 million. Whether the bridge is repaired or replaced will be determined by funding availability. If the bridge is repaired, it will take four to six months to complete the project. If the bridge is replaced, it will take 18 months from the time work begins.

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