Money lacking to replace, fix deteriorating bridges

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Drive fast enough over Spirit Creek in Richmond County, and you might not notice the guard rail that hangs limply off the bridge and into the water below.

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The Fifth Street bridge received a deficiency rating of 27.4/100.  Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
Annette M. Drowlette/Staff
The Fifth Street bridge received a deficiency rating of 27.4/100.

Those who regularly travel on Willis Foreman Road over the bridge aren't likely to see its warped wooden beams, which seem to be bending under the weight of years of passing vehicles, or the water soaked into its supports.

But the city of Augusta and inspectors with the Georgia Department of Transportation know. After years of warnings about the bridge's viability, officials said they will be moving forward with plans to replace the crumbling structure.

"It's a complete bridge replacement," said Richmond County Director of Engineering Abie Ladson. "It's going to be up to standard."

Seventeen bridges in Richmond County were rated structurally deficient by the GDOT during its last round of inspections, statistics show. According to GDOT spokeswoman Crystal Paulk-Buchanan, bridges with that rating need serious repairs or might need to be replaced altogether.

"Structurally deficient means it's time to replace the bridge," Ms. Paulk-Buchanan said, adding that they would be shut down immediately if inspectors thought they were in danger of collapsing.

But repairs and replacements often come with a delay.

While the GDOT report does not list how long a structure has been deficient, a 2008 report from the Georgia Department of Audits and Accounts found that many local governments "frequently do not make the routine, preventative repairs recommended by the GDOT bridge inspection unit."

In a review of 11 counties, it found that 86 percent of the problems reported in the first inspection were still there when state inspectors returned two years later. Richmond County was not included in the department's sampling for the report, but reports from The Augusta Chronicle show that eight of the deficient bridges have been that way since at least 2002.

Both the report and local officials acknowledge that funding is a major problem.

Mr. Ladson said his department will be using about $16 million from the city's special purpose local optional sales tax to replace six of the county's deficient bridges.

About $9 million of that will go to the Willis Foreman Road bridge and will come from money left over from various sales tax projects, Mr. Ladson said. The rest is coming from the latest local option sales tax passed in June and will be available in 2011.

"That may not be enough, to be honest with you, but it's something to get started," he said. "You can repair for only so long before you have to replace."

A design for the Willis Foreman Road bridge replacement is complete, and officials plan to put the project up for bid by the end of this year.

Others set for replacement include Marks Church Road at Rae's Creek, Old Waynesboro Road at Spirit Creek, Berckmans Road at Rae's Creek, Scotts Way at Rae's Creek, and Seventh Street at the Augusta Canal.

This leaves 11 deficient local bridges without any plans for replacement and little money for repairs in the near future.

Dennis Stroud, the director of the Richmond County Maintenance Department, said his office will perform routine fixes but will be unable to make any major repairs this year.

"We don't have a quote unquote bridge team or a budget for bridges," Mr. Stroud said. "We just try to do what we can."

The state inspects each of Georgia's bridges every two years, no matter who owns them, Ms. Paulk-Buchanan said. If inspectors see problems, they make recommendations to the bridge's owner.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3338 or adam.folk@augustachronicle.com.

16 BRIDGES FOUND STRUCTURALLY DEFICIENT

The Georgia Department of Transportation inspects each of the state's bridges every two years. These are the bridges found structurally deficient during the latest inspections.

Deficient Bridges Deficiency rating (out of a possible 100) Last inspected
15th Street at the Augusta Canal 51.96 Dec. 5, 2007
Fifth Street at Savannah River 27.4 Feb. 4, 2008
Marks Church Road at Rae's Creek 22.5 Dec. 10, 2007
Willis Foreman Road at Spirit Creek 7 Feb. 8, 2008
Windsor Spring Road at Railroad crossing 27.52 Nov. 17, 2007
Old Waynesboro Road at Spirit Creek 49.05 Nov. 20, 2007
Windsor Spring Road at Rocky Creek Tributary 31.95 Nov. 27, 2007
Berckmans Road at Rae's Creek 46.34 Dec. 11, 2007
Scotts Way at Rae's Creek 62.18 Dec. 10, 2007
Fenwick Street at Augusta Canal 50.63 Dec. 5, 2007
Goodrich Road at Canal Spillway (2) 30.72, 25.98 Dec. 6, 2007
St. Route 10 US 1 at railroad crossing 49.98 Jan. 10, 2008
Windsor Spring Road at Spirit Creek 29.34 Nov. 20, 2007
Seventh Street at Augusta Canal 33.57 Dec. 4, 2007
Deans Bridge Road at South Prong Creek 65.80 Jan. 22, 2008
Windsor Spring Road at Norfolk-Southern Crossing 27.52 Nov. 15, 2007

Comments (24) Add comment
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jiclemens
0
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jiclemens 09/13/09 - 07:03 am
0
0
What happened to the

What happened to the "stimulus money?"

whocareswhatyouthink
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whocareswhatyouthink 09/13/09 - 07:12 am
0
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"stimulus money" is evil and

"stimulus money" is evil and we shouldn't use it. Even the great Mark Sanford says so... We need more tax cuts. That'll fix the bridges.....

Southern_Patriot
0
Points
Southern_Patriot 09/13/09 - 07:12 am
0
0
What happened to all the

What happened to all the money bozero promised for roads and bridges? Oh well, I guess acorn, hamas and funds for abortions worldwide got it.

WMartin
119
Points
WMartin 09/13/09 - 08:09 am
0
0
Hummmmm . . . Shovel ready

Hummmmm . . . Shovel ready project . . . . Obama promised money for shovel ready projects . . . Obama Lied! Our bridges Died! . . . Obama Lied! Our bridges Died! . . . Obama Lied! Our bridges Died!

deekster
24
Points
deekster 09/13/09 - 08:24 am
0
0
Shovel ready. The s_ _t is

Shovel ready. The s_ _t is already shoulder high. The word "maintenance" is only in the vocabulary of politicians when they want more money for something else. New construction is the name of the came. Build it an forget it. I wonder if their homes and autos are the same.

deekster
24
Points
deekster 09/13/09 - 08:26 am
0
0
Does the AC get all of its

Does the AC get all of its stories from Cable News? "Crumbling America" Just in "live from in the newsroom". I just downloaded a story from the net. Do I get a raise?

Craig Spinks
818
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Craig Spinks 09/13/09 - 08:30 am
0
0
Removing county employees

Removing county employees with substandard work histories would do much to raise money for the replacement of substandard bridges.

FedupwithAUG
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FedupwithAUG 09/13/09 - 09:17 am
0
0
Like we really need a

Like we really need a baseball field with all these repairs that need to be made.

Liability
4
Points
Liability 09/13/09 - 09:19 am
0
0
An ounce of prevention is

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. However, who would be held accountable should a serious injury or death result from defective bridges? It would cost more to pay damages in a lawsuit than it would to repair defective equipment. Someone needs to be held accountable and find a solution to prevent this from occuring.

bettyboop
8
Points
bettyboop 09/13/09 - 09:24 am
0
0
Yes We Can !!!! ..not

Yes We Can !!!! ..not

WW1949
19
Points
WW1949 09/13/09 - 10:01 am
0
0
Liability, you must be a

Liability, you must be a lawyer. Why are people always thingking about laysuits. Get the money by cutting back on entitlement spending and make the lazys work.

Lumbarsupport
0
Points
Lumbarsupport 09/13/09 - 10:12 am
0
0
There is plenty of money for

There is plenty of money for repairs. There must be, the government has enough money to have bought GM, AIG, pay people $4500 to buy cars, buy houses for people of the correct ethicity, millions to run buses in Augusta that don't get ridden.......There is plenty of money. If not, when they fire up the presses to pay for free healthcare just run a few extra billion out to build more bridges.

Onthebeach
0
Points
Onthebeach 09/13/09 - 10:34 am
0
0
Help us, Mr. Obama! Help us!

Help us, Mr. Obama! Help us!

crackertroy
540
Points
crackertroy 09/13/09 - 11:31 am
0
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Yeah, and our 1% sales tax
Unpublished

Yeah, and our 1% sales tax will be used to fund a corrupt TEE Center project, give money to Peter Knox for the Theatres down town that not that many people care about, and to build a pond by the Regency Mall ghost town while the rest of the county sinks with the bridges.

crackertroy
540
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crackertroy 09/13/09 - 11:33 am
0
0
November 2010 I'm voting
Unpublished

November 2010 I'm voting against any incumbent that has anything to do with Richmond County. We need new people!

The Knave
24
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The Knave 09/13/09 - 11:51 am
0
0
More mindless reporting.

More mindless reporting. Reference is made to "Deficiency rating." Yet, there is no indication as to whether a higher rating is indicative of a relatively better or poorer condition than a bridge with a lower rating. I doubt the reporter knows, and didn't have the intellectual curiosity to find out. For the who criticized Obama in your comments (I am not an Obama enthusiast), you have no idea why the bridge repair work did not receive stimulus money. Perhaps it was because no bridge design was available (hence, not "shovel-ready"), or maybe it was because the people who are running the local governments didn't have the sense to apply for it. By criticizing without the facts, you expose your biases and ignorance. Regrettably, most Americans just don't care about facts. They would rather just latch on to the mindless gibber jabber of bloviating political types, and repeat whatever they hear those creatures say.

DEVGRU
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DEVGRU 09/13/09 - 12:13 pm
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Good old Richmond County. Ya

Good old Richmond County. Ya gotta love some of those commissioners. Some of them probably can't even spell bridge.

TakeAstand
13
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TakeAstand 09/13/09 - 01:02 pm
0
0
They do not have the money to

They do not have the money to reapir bridges for the safety of the citizens, but they have the money to repave the same road every couple of years " for appearance". BS!!!

Little Lamb
50775
Points
Little Lamb 09/13/09 - 01:51 pm
0
0
They could cancel the TEE

They could cancel the TEE center and then they could spend the $20 million already collected and sitting in the bank on fixing some of the bridges.

say what
0
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say what 09/13/09 - 02:16 pm
0
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The citizens voted on the

The citizens voted on the projects for the current SPLOST. Not a single penny was included for roads and bridges. Where were your complaints when the list was being compiled? Many were lobbying for the very things you are now moaning about.

jack
11
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jack 09/13/09 - 02:50 pm
0
0
Where is all that gasoline

Where is all that gasoline tax money going?

say what
0
Points
say what 09/13/09 - 03:07 pm
0
0
Atlanta

Atlanta

NoPartyFan
2
Points
NoPartyFan 09/13/09 - 03:30 pm
0
0
Like it or not, Georgia got

Like it or not, Georgia got $927,319 of stimulus money for roads and bridges. Some of it is going from roads and bridges in the area.

justus4
117
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justus4 09/13/09 - 04:03 pm
0
0
Print the name of the
Unpublished

Print the name of the individuals who OWN the bridges. How did they get them in the first place? Why is tax dollars use for upkeep? What year and what term commissioners approved such actions?

say what
0
Points
say what 09/13/09 - 04:41 pm
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0
The citizens of GA own the

The citizens of GA own the bridges justass. Paid for with tax dollars, maintained with tax dollars. Did you have to study hard to be this ignorant or is it a natural talent?

DEVGRU
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DEVGRU 09/13/09 - 06:45 pm
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0
I agree with say what. Most

I agree with say what. Most of "justasses" brain lies in his shorts. Poor ignorant bastard.

lifelongresidient
1
Points
lifelongresidient 09/15/09 - 03:10 pm
0
0
let's see money sitting in

let's see money sitting in the bank for a useless TEE CENTER that could be used to repair/replace defective bridges...here you have more backward thinking, bumpkin mindset that regularly occurs on the sitting commission...with their "if we build it, they will come mentality"

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