State Starts Replacing Old Bridges

The State Department of Transportation has begun the process of replacing hundreds of aging bridges on county roads.

DOT officials say they're using a bond issue approved in November 2000 to borrow 50 million dollars to build 250 million dollars worth of roads to replace structurally deficient or obsolete bridges. Additional dollars will come from federal highway officials. Engineers say they've found at least 1,049 bridges statewide that need to be replaced. Of that, 349 bridges are under construction contracts, another 300 are on the drawing board.

According to Department of Transportation officials, Covington County has the most bridges which need help. That county has 100 bad bridges. Autauga County has eight bridges, which need improvement, and officials say contracts have been secured to fix them.

Montgomery County's only bad bridge is on Norman Bridge Road at Catoma Creek. Officials say that bridge is so bad they won't even worry about trying to fix it. D.O.T. officials say they will monitor it until the bridge becomes to worn and then they will close it for good.

Frank Courson, DOT's engineer for county transportation, said there's enough bond money to replace only about 700 bridges by 2005. However, he expects the list to grow longer -- there's another 14-hundred bridges in need of repair or replacement.