County plans to prioritize bridges to repair

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 22, 2000

Staff Writer

Dec. 21, 2000 10 PM

Pike County should still get $6.3 million from statewide Amendment 1 to help with road and bridge repair, but the county engineer says he’ll run out of money before he runs out of bridges.

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Higher than anticipated bids mean the plan to replace bridges across Alabama will not include as many as first thought.

Last week, state officials opened the first bids meant to repair or replace some of the state’s 3,000 bridges in Coffee and Chambers counties. But, it appears the $250 million program will only help 600 bridges.

With Pike County waiting for about $6.3 million of that money, County Engineer Herb Huner said "What it boils down to is fixing those of top priority."

Huner does not expect the bids to have any impact on the money Pike County receives, rather the number of bridges repaired and replaced.

The more than $6 million expected here is only "a drop in the bucket" to the county’s needs, Huner said.

Friday was his deadline to submit the county’s priority list to Alabama Department of Transportation.

"I don’t have nearly enough money to do all of them," Huner said of replacing and repairing bridges in Pike County.

He said "the idea" was to fix those which are heavily traveled, especially by school buses, and those which can not be crossed by large loads, such as emergency vehicles.

"That’s what our priority is here," Huner said.

About $18 million is needed to do all the necessary work of replacing and repairing bridges in Pike County, as well as resurfacing roads.

"The $6.3 million is nice, but it would take twice that amount," Huner said.

Pike County has 48 bridges which are impassable by school buses and 82 of the county’s 182 bridges on inventory have a sufficiency rating below 50.

Two of the unsafe bridges in Pike County force school bus drivers to travel more than 33 miles out of their way each day with busloads of children.

All of that will take an estimated $12 million to replace. However, the county has made a dent in the problem by borrowing $1.3 million and spending some federal aid dollars to cut that by about $2 million.

When Huner did a needs assessment in November 1999, he discovered 126.5 miles of roadway that has not been resurfaced in the last 20 years to the tune of $6.69 million. More than 25 miles have not been resurfaced in 15 years, which will cost more than $1.3 million.

One of those bridges is Boyd’s Mill Creek Bridge, which Gov. Don Siegelman visited earlier this year while on a tour to push passage of Amendment 1. The amendment was supposed to fix about 3,000 bridges throughout Alabama.

The condition of the bridge on County Road 13 has forced feed trucks going to a poultry farm to find another route because of the posted weight limit of three tons.

Huner has estimated it will cost $150,000 to move the old grist mill bridge that is on the "highest priority" list compiled by the Alabama Department of Transportation.

Other Pike County bridges on the state list include: Log Creek, two on Boyd’s Mill Creek, McQuagge Mill Creek, Beeman Creek, two on Manning Creek and Manning Creek Relief, Indian Creek, Mud Creek, Panther Creek, Hurricane Branch, Gore’s Branch, Brown’s Mill Creek, two on Richland Creek, three on Buckhorn Creek, Conner’s Creek, Sandy Run Creek, Deer Creek Relief, Big Creek, Lynn Mill Creek, Motes Mill Creek, two on Olustee Creek, Dorrill Creek, Mill Creek, Tributary Sand Run Creek, Pearson Branch, Mill Creek, a branch off Buckhorn Road and four unnamed bridges.

Pike County was supposed to get the second largest amount of funding, second only to Mobile County.