Tri-City Ledger -

By Joe Thomas
Ledger Editor 

ALDOT needs to fix the real problem


March 12, 2020

It's been called everything from the $20 million fishing pier to the bridge to nowhere; it's been joked about, laughed about and ridiculed for the waste of taxpayers' money that was simply wasted.

I'm talking about the new bridge on Highway 41 crossing the Conecuh River in Riverview. But it's no laughing matter.

It's been hard keeping up with who's to blame on the original screw-up and who's been sued. It's been hard keeping up with who's filed bankruptcy and how much money was spent and how much money is being spent on lawyers to try to fix the problem.

If we keep going like we're going, the cost of that mega bridge in Mobile will look like a drop in the bucket.

Bottom line is the state of Alabama needs to fix that bridge and fix it now. If they want to fight the issue in court over the next several years to recoup money, so be it.

For the past several months the Alabama Department of Transportation has been patching, re-patching again and to keep the old bridge functional.

This coming Monday, the bridge will be totally closed for about 30 minutes to begin what ALDOT says “is a more permanent solution to the work performed last week.”

The “more permanent solution” would be to go ahead and fix the so-called new bridge and quit pointing fingers and wasting time and money fixing something that will have to be destroyed down the road.

So far it's been just a little inconvenient waiting for the flagmen on either side of the bridge to wave one line of cars and trucks across at a time. Maybe it's just my bad luck but I've never timed it to where I could just drive across. It's getting irritating when your line finally opens up and when you get about 20 feet from the bridge the flagman sticks out that stop sign and you have to wait for the other side to come through. At least there's some relief knowing the next time you get the green light you'll get to go through. But you also know you have to come back across.

It's a small inconvenience now, but wait until that old bridge falls in or is no longer safe to cross. I can't think of an easy detour for someone coming or going, unless it's going through Jay.

Like most issues, money is the problem. Specifically who owes the money or who will spend the money to replace the decking on the so-called new bridge.

Money will be the least of the state's problem when a school bus full of students plunges into the Conecuh River if the old bridge collapses.

You don't have to be a civil engineer or a rocket scientist to know the reason the Alabama Department of Transportation first decided to build the new bridge. It was because the old bridge was in terrible shape. There had to be a concern that the daily pounding the old structure receives from log trucks and other heavy loads were taking its toll on the bridge.

In the many years I've been in the newspaper business I've seen those instances where it takes bad wrecks and even fatalities to get traffic hazards addressed. It took a lot of people getting killed at the intersection of Highway 113 and Highway 31 in Flomaton before we got flashing lights and rumble strips. There hasn't been a fatality there since.

Somebody needs to get off their butt and spearhead the reconstruction of the new bridge before it's too late.


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