Work on Brown Ave. Bridge slated for 2012

By Lindsey Connell - bio | email | Twitter

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -  Every day, Theo Austin uses the Brown Avenue Bridge coming to and from his business, Shotyme Automotive Repairs, on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

He says he's worried about how the structure is holding up.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is going to tear the bridge down and rebuild it but the work isn't slated to start for another two years.

In the meantime, 3 ton weight limit signs are posted on both sides.

"They say they didn't want big trucks to go down the road but they're still going on it. They have a sign up that they're not supposed to do it but it's still being done. I just hope the thing doesn't go down when I'm on it or my family's on it or anyone else's for that matter," Austin told News Leader 9.

While we were filming the story Thursday, our cameras also caught a tractor trailer making it's way across the bridge.

"It's a very important part of South Columbus. It's the gateway to South Columbus. Yes, I do feel it needs to be replaced and yes we still have big trucks that ignore the 3 ton signs," said Vernon White, owner of V. Wheezy's Barbeque Pit on Brown Avenue.

It's not clear how the weight limit is policed and Donna Newman, the city's engineer, was unavailable for an interview Thursday. Back in December, she told WTVM excessive loads only speed up the bridge's deterioration- the impact causing the concrete to crack and break apart.

DOT officials say the bridge is unsafe for buses and fire trucks to pass over but it is still safe for cars to use. If there was a more immediate structural concern, the DOT says it would shut the bridge down completely. They add that the bridge passed its last inspection which is done every two years.

According to the DOT, environmental studies are now being down on the Brown Avenue Bridge Then the DOT must acquire the right of way which officials say will take a year.

The project is scheduled to be bid on by contractors in late 2012.

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