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Repairing the bridges of Rockdale County
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Honey Creek Road bridge over Honey Creek tributary - photo by Michelle Kim/The News

The bridges of Rockdale County are in need of several maintenance repairs.

According to a recent inspection report performed by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), the 21 bridges maintained by the county government need repairs that have a cost range from $5,000 to almost $200,000 depending on the bridge.

None of the repairs pose any "imminent danger," Miguel Valentin, director of the Rockdale County Department of Transportation (RDOT), told The News.

"After the inspections are done we have to address everything in the report," said Valentin. "The bridges are not unsafe or anything. Some of the bridges (repairs) are just cosmetic things."

Almost all the bridges need to have overgrown plant-life and debris removed from around the structures, drains around the bridge swept and cleaned, bridge joints resealed and a new coat of paint.

"Usually there's always something minor (that needs to fixed)," said Valentin. "That's common."

Most costly bridges

The bridge over the Honey Creek Tributary on Honey Creek Road requires some structural maintenance however. More steel needs to be added to stabilize the structure. The "materials" are not present on the bridge and "if added could make things better," said Valentin.

The total cost to fix the issues GDOT for this bridge would about 101, 501, with about $40,000 going to pay for the reinforced steel. This is only the third highest costing bridge the county needs to repair.

The most expensive bridge to overhaul will be the bridge on Gees Mills Road that runs over the Yellow River. This bridge will cost $192,601 to repair its deficiencies, with major costs going to encasing the concrete columns to protect them, sway bracing, painting and joint resealing.

The second most costly bridge to fix will be the one on Flat Bridge Road that runs over the South River. It will cost about 131,451 to restore, with $100,000 going to the paint job.

"These reports are not unusual," said Valentin.

What's the total cost?

The Rockdale County Board of Commissioners (BOC) was presented with the list of bridge deficiencies at its work session meeting Tuesday morning at the Assembly Hall, 901 Main Street.

On the table for the board's decision, is whether to allow Marietta-based Comanche Construction of Georgia to handle the bridge maintenance project. The total contract will be for $750,000, which will be paid for using $550,000 of special local option sales tax (SPLOST) money and $200,000 from a local maintenance and improvement grant (LMIG) from GDOT.

If approved Tuesday, Valentin expects all the problems GDOT pointed out to be fixed sometime before the end of this year.

There was no discussion from the board when the item was announced. The BOC will vote on this item at its 10 a.m. voting session on Tuesday, June 23, at the Assembly Hall.

Bridge replacement

Even with the improvements that will more than be done to the bridges, it doesn't change the fact that some of the bridges need to be replaced entirely.

Official county documents proclaim some of the bridges to be "structurally obsolete" and a "future" "infrastructure improvement project" will have to be completed.

"It may sound scary, but it's not," said Valentin. "(Structurally obsolete is) when (the bridge) no longer serves the purpose it was intended for."

For instance, if a two-lane bridge needs to allow more traffic to flow than what it was originally designed to handle it may be deemed structurally obsolete. A fix to this would be replacing the bridge with one that has more driving lanes.

The bridge on Honey Creek that crosses over Snapping Shoals Creek is structurally obsolete. The bridge is set to get $39,241 worth of repairs done pending BOC approval, but it "has reached that point" where it needs to be replaced, says Valentin.

RDOT is currently seeking state and federal funding to perform the project. The average bridge replacement could cost up to $4 million, according to Valentin.