Safety of Columbus bridge questioned by drivers - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Safety of Columbus bridge questioned by drivers

By Chris Vessell - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A Columbus bridge has drivers asking lots of questions when it comes to safety. City engineers are limiting the weight of cars driving over the Brown Avenue Bridge.

The weight limit posted on a traffic board is fairly new. However, city engineers say the bridge has needed replacing for almost a decade now. Even this latest precaution may call for even more action.

"We don't want the bridge to collapse. So we need to get something done about that as soon as possible," Dewayne Hurley, a long time Columbus resident said.

The Brown Avenue bridge has seen better days. The Georgia Department of Transportation gave the bridge a sufficiency rating of a 26 one year ago. That's on a scale of 0 to 100 with 100 being the best.

"What it does, it takes into account the amount of traffic the structural integrity of the bridge, the design of the bridge the use the road," Donna Newman, Columbus Engineering Department said.

The poor rating comes years after the DOT saw need for improvements back in 2002. "The reason is just the state and federal funding process. They require a lot of additional studies and public meetings," Newman said.

And a follow up inspection just weeks ago led the city engineers to post a new 3 ton weight limit. "Excessive loads expedite the deterioration process, the continual heavy loading of the traffic going across causes that concrete to get hit more frequently and your losing more of the concrete" said Newman.

"I don't think people are conscious that they're driving a vehicle that's 3 tons or better," Freeshel Lawrence said.

Many aren't sure how much their car weighs, but a local car dealership says the limit, eliminates a good number of consumer cars.

"Your GMC pickup trucks, your Yukon's and any of your larger SUVs are in that six thousand pound or heavier category," Robert Kelley, a sales representative with Legacy Chevrolet said.

"I know people have to go out of their way to avoid using this bridge, but you have to think about what if it collapsed somebody is going to get hurt," Lawrence said.

City engineers assure the public that the bridge is safe and the weight limit is just a precaution. However, in matter of five minutes, News Leader Nine saw numerous cars cross bridge that appeared to be over the weight limit.

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