Broad Avenue bridge will be replaced -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Broad Avenue bridge will be replaced

By Jennifer Emert - bio | email

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Downtown Albany is getting a new bridge across the Flint River.

The Department of Transportation surprised city officials Thursday. They announced the Broad Avenue Bridge will be replaced with a new bridge at an estimated cost of seven million dollars.

The bridge was closed in February when divers found significant deterioration in the footings.

We now know just how bad the Broad Avenue Bridge needs replacing. When the state rated everything wrong with the structure it ranked 18th out of the state's nine thousand bridges on the list for needed repairs.

The Broad Avenue Bridge won't reopen anytime soon. In fact the Department of Transportation plans to tear it down, but they shocked city officials when they announced plans to replace it.

"It was a surprise, I was not anticipating that they would make that announcement," said Albany City Engineer Bruce Maples.

Engineers estimate it will cost about seven million dollars for a scaled back replacement versus 10 million dollars to repair the crumbling bridge. They found federal money to tackle the task.

"Our federal money can be funded up to 80 percent so we'll be looking to the city for some assistance on the match," said Todd Long, GDOT, Director of Planning.

A cheaper cost to replace the structure could ultimately save taxpayers more.

"I think with the DOT making this commitment, it's going to save us some money," said Maples.

Building a new bridge won't take any longer than the repairs would have. The beginning of construction is more than a year away.

"I think if anything it might actually be, about the same time frame, the key is getting the environmental document taken care of and we're still looking at nine months from today," said Maples.

That's if a meeting with environmental officials in Atlanta goes well. Friday's meeting is between the Department of Transportation, Fish and Wildlife officials, and the Historic Preservation Commission in Atlanta and should go over what divers found when they inspected the footers of the bridge for an endangered muscle species this summer.

The Department of Transportation says if there are no right of way issues the bridge will be constructed in exactly the same place. A design for the new bridge still has to be worked out.

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