Three Augusta bridges rated 'poor'

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They are the city's repeat offenders.

Three Augusta bridges were ranked in poor condition for at least the past four years, based on a biennial inspection report from the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The Fifth Street Bridge over the Savannah River, Goodrich Road over the Augusta Canal Spillway and Fenwick Street over the Augusta Canal all have problems such as corrosion and deterioration of bridge components.

Dennis Stroud, the director of Augusta's Public Works Department, said that Augusta's bridges are aging but that without funding for major repairs his department must simply maintain, observe and fix the problems when they arise.

"We're not so bad off compared to other cities," Mr. Stroud said. "All of our bridges are stable but we have an older infrastructure."

According to the most recent inspection report, which was given to the Richmond County Maintenance Department in June 2006, none of the county's bridges is unsafe for travel. However, based on ratings of good, fair and poor, the three worst structures still have some serious problems.

The Fifth Street Bridge is "in poor condition with corrosion and section loss of the steel superstructure," and the abutment of the Goodrich Road bridge "is breaking apart and should be repaired immediately," the report said.

The same DOT report for Columbia County said all the inspected bridges were in fair or good condition.

Aiken County officials referred a reporter to the South Carolina Department of Transportation, which did not provide specific data on that county's bridges.

Mr. Stroud said his department does regular maintenance on the Fifth Street Bridge and has addressed some of the problems in the report.

In his opinion, the bridge should be restricted to pedestrians unless the county government approves funds to complete a major overhaul.

"The Fifth Street Bridge probably needs to be closed, and we'll just let bicycles on it," he said. "But other than that we're in good shape."

He said more serious structural problems would have to remain until the city locates funding and hires a contractor to repair the problems.

"They're not great, but the city is not ready to replace them yet," Mr. Stroud said.

City Administrator Fred Russell said he was not aware of any bridge projects that were funded and scheduled for major reconstruction or repairs.

"In the grand scheme of things, yesterday this wasn't a priority for anybody," Mr. Russell said Thursday. "That's a shame, but that's just the way it works. Nobody has told me we've got anything that isn't safe, and if they tell me that then obviously we'd make a decision to shut it down. We've got things we need to work on, and we're aware of that."

Staff Writer Michelle Guffey contributed to this article.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.


STATE REACTIONS

Georgia claims to have first class maintenance

ATLANTA - Georgia's Department of Transportation has been inspecting bridges in the state for years, and a spokeswoman says the state's bar is higher than the federal bar.

"We are very confident in it," said Carrie Hamblin, a medial spokeswoman for the DOT.

"We have about 9,000 bridges in the state," Ms. Hamblin said. "Fifty percent fall into state responsibility and 50 percent are local. The DOT inspects all of them, regardless of jurisdiction."

She said local governments repair local bridges.

"We inspect (bridges) at a minimum of two years," she said. "We have not changed our policies and procedures in light of this (Minneapolis collapse)."

1,033 bridges deemed 'structurally deficient'

COLUMBIA - More than 1,000 bridges in South Carolina have the same "structurally deficient" designation given to a bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis. But, state officials said Thursday, the spans aren't necessarily unsafe.

State Transportation Department officials said there are no bridges like the one in Minneapolis. Of the 8,330 bridges that the agency inspects, 1,033 are structurally deficient, meaning at least one primary component does not meet federal standards.

The agency conducts more than 6,000 inspections a year. Bridges with load restrictions are inspected yearly, while non-load restricted bridges are checked every two years. About $2.9 billion would replace structurally deficient bridges, officials said.

- Edited from wire reports

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bowler2
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bowler2 08/03/07 - 09:36 am
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Fifth Street Bridge should be

Fifth Street Bridge should be closed, so why not close it? You have the Aiken Augusta Highway Bridge that is in good shape and it is just a short block away!

snowhite634
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snowhite634 08/03/07 - 10:47 am
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it says...they will fix it

it says...they will fix it when problems arrise....thats exactly what the Minneapolis people said. They knew since 1990!!!! It just "wasnt that big of a deal." So, I guess our bridges have to collapse and kill people before it can get fixed. Same thing with caution and traffic lights...we only get them where they are needed when someone dies.

what about me
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what about me 08/03/07 - 11:33 am
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You would think with such

You would think with such evidance that those bridges need to be closed they would do so. To prevent and take measures to keep a disaster happening here with in the CSRA. Not only do Augustana travel those bridges, but people from every where weather they be residence from all over the CSRA or travelers. We must do every thing we can to keep up these man made structures to prevent lives being lost. So what for the inconveniance I rather be living here with my family than die fatially from failed bridge sturcturs that lacked maintanance or repairs.

heffner
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heffner 08/03/07 - 01:50 pm
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With bridges in such poor

With bridges in such poor condition why are we spending money on a Gold Hall of Fame, a new courthouse, and all the other frivilous expenditures. When the bridges are safe - then maybe they can spend money on other things. The first task of government should be the safety of its citizens.

rainingoranges
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rainingoranges 08/03/07 - 03:47 pm
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What about the bridge on

What about the bridge on Willis Foreman Rd. in South Augusta? They had the road closed for months and then reopened it without fixing anything!!! It's been an accident waiting to happen for YEARS. The city never has cared about South Augusta. I suppose we don't have enough tax money or political clout to give the city and its polititcians for them to care.

spartan22
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spartan22 08/03/07 - 05:17 pm
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it says...they will fix it

it says...they will fix it when problems arrise....thats exactly what the Minneapolis people said. They knew since 1990!!!! Bunch a political blowhards. It just "wasnt that big of a deal." So, I guess our bridges have to collapse and kill people before it can get fixed. Of course,there has ALSO has be enough traffic to justify closing, repairing or replacing a bridge. Not number of potential deaths, but dumb number like traffic count. Keep it non-human, and nothing gets done, have a tragic deaths and then all that hides comes to light, from dumb to numb, no one freakin' learns. Same thing with caution and traffic lights...we only get them where they are needed when someone dies. can you believe we entertain that we would let bikes on a condemned bridge and not cars...traffic count, again. people on bikes die the same way they do in cars when they crash to earth. talk of ignorance.

mable8
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mable8 08/03/07 - 05:42 pm
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If the only traffic that the

If the only traffic that the Fifth Street Bridge can handle is bicycles and pedestrians, then get the vehicles off of it. It is unfortunate that engineers wait for the inevitable--over-kill! This is precisely the mentality used when negotiating for a traffic signal; they wait until extraordinarily high numbers of motorists and pedestrians lose their lives before installing the traffic light. Obviously, there is no real value to the human life when it comes to public safety.

HillGuy
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HillGuy 08/04/07 - 12:23 am
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It would be nice to have a

It would be nice to have a pedestrian/bicycle only bridge.. Chattanooga did this with one of its older bridges.. and it become somewhat of an attraction.. If there would be someway to link it up with North Augusta's Greenway.. that would be even better... The bridge should be closed to automobile traffic immediately if it is in such poor condition.

wildcountrygirl37
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wildcountrygirl37 08/04/07 - 02:51 am
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Well fix the bridges then how

Well fix the bridges then how come even have them if you can't go on them. I am glad to know about this I won't drive on the fifth street bridge ever again.

The_Last_Word
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The_Last_Word 08/04/07 - 08:14 am
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When you think about it, why

When you think about it, why on earth would a Georgian go to South Carolina in the first place?! Just kidding!

scoobydostwin
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scoobydostwin 08/04/07 - 09:12 am
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Good point , Mr/Mrs Word and

Good point , Mr/Mrs Word and I think SC residents feel the same way about coming over here.

Rosalind2051
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Rosalind2051 08/04/07 - 10:10 am
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Why does it always take a

Why does it always take a major disaster to happen before someone will fix something. Just fix the bridges anyway and avoid killing innocent people. Stop spending money on bull and fix the major things first.

TakeAstand
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TakeAstand 08/04/07 - 03:01 pm
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heffner you are 100% correct.

heffner you are 100% correct. I'd say as an augustan I would rather my tax dollars go to fixing bridges to save some lives rather than a hall of fame and new baseball stadium. Prioritys around here have always been messed up.. I guess thats nothing new!! lol

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