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Repairs underway for Conecuh River bridge

Construction began last week on the Conecuh River Bridge on Needmore Road, after inspectors found a fault in its structure.

“The divers came in and did our underwater inspection,” said County Engineer Russell Oliver. “When they came in, they found a pile that was severely deteriorated.”

The pile, which is a sub-structure for the bridge, will not cause any disruptions to traffic as it undergoes construction, except for some heavier vehicles.

Oliver said while normally the bridge exempts only three-axle dump trucks and concrete trucks, which weigh 29 tons when fully loaded, they are now restricting all vehicles more than 3 tons.

“If your vehicle weighs more than three tons, you don’t need to cross it,” Oliver said.

The bridge’s deterioration is natural, but it is something the county has to work to maintain, Oliver said.

“It’s a naturally occurring thing,” Oliver said. “These things cost a lot of money, and we’ve got a lot of maintenance issues on our roads and bridges that need to be fixed.”

Oliver said these bridges don’t pose any immediate safety hazards, but in time, they will.

“We’ve got over 170 bridge structures in the county, and they’re all going to have these kinds of issues,” Oliver said. “And right now, we’re in a shortfall.”

Oliver said routine maintenance is done on the bridges, and if one poses safety concerns, it will be addressed with or without the funding.

“In the past, we’ve had to close bridges down because we didn’t have the money to repair them yet,” Oliver said.