MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) -
From a distance it looks as though workmen are simply cleaning the Bibb Graves and to some extent they are but in reality it's a much bigger project than a clean-up job.
"It's the only project the Federal Highway Administration is using as a test pilot to see if this works," said Rebecca White, spokeswoman for the Alabama Department of Transportation.
Workers are spraying what's known as saline, a chemical road engineers believe will seal cracks in the concrete, an important step in preserving the life of a concrete bridge such as this one.
"It's a chemical reaction. When water gets inside the concrete, the concrete tends to break apart," said White.
White says this is far more cost-effective than building a new bridge and if it works here, look for the same kind of treatment to concrete bridges down the road.
"It's cutting-edge and they'll use the tests and measurements from this to see if the same approach can be used all over the world," said White.
The Bibb Graves Bridge was built in 1931 and it spans across the Coosa River, a landmark in Wetumpka, one the natives and transportation leaders want to keep around for a few more years.
As of this writing the bridge is open to traffic but more work is scheduled for next week, meaning the bridge will have to be closed again. ALDOT is expected to release more information later this week.
The entire project is a partnership between ALDOT, the Federal Highway Administration and the Highway Research Center at Auburn University.