Troup County is looking to replace three bridges after a recent Department of Transportation inspection lowered the weight limits to the lowest allowed on two.
With the new load limits, the Salem-Chipley Road bridge over Turkey Creek and Baughs Cross Road bridge over Mud Creek are rated for a 3-ton weigh limit, the lowest used, which allows only passenger cars. That means school buses, fire trucks and ambulances cannot cross them and are having to use alternate routes, said County Engineer James Emery on Friday during a County Commission work session.
The deficiencies outlined in the DOT report for Baughs Cross Road and the Salem-Chiply bridge at Turkey Creek prohibit repairs that would significantly strengthen the bridges, Emery said.
“The problem is that the repairs we could make to these bridges would never raise the load limits on these bridges up to a satisfactory level,” Emery said. “The original design of these bridges would only accommodate a very small load.”
Emery said the bridges could be repaired to the point of allowing most school buses to cross, but some still would be too heavy. He recommended the county use special-purpose, local-option sales tax funds allocated for repairing bridges to instead replace the bridges.
The Salem-Chipley Road bridge at Turkey Creek Tributary, a similarly named bridge only a mile away from the Salem-Creek Road bridge over Turkey Creek, had to be closed a few years ago for repairs after a DOT inspection. It was re-opened and now has an 11-ton rating. However, Emery suggested also replacing it if the other Salem-Chipley Road bridge is replaced, because it otherwise would still limit the weight limit of traffic along the road.
“Replacing one will necessitate replacing the other,” Emery said.
Emery asked for proposals from two pre-qualified engineers. He suggested the county contract with firm American Engineers for engineering for the Baughs Cross Road bridge at a cost of $65,500, and firm Moreland Altobelli for the two Salem-Chipley Road bridges, at a total $66,087, or $32,332 if a study determines the bridges could be replaced by a standard culvert or $46,042 if they could be replaced by a precast culvert.
Emery said construction costs could vary depending on the results of the designs and engineering studies. A hydrology study will determine if the two Salem-Chipley bridges can be replaced by boxed culverts, and if the profile of the roads connecting to the bridges need to be changed, which would increase the cost. He gave a “ballpark estimate”range of about $200,000 to $8000,000 per bridge for construction costs.
Additional time and costs for an environmental impact study and aquatic species survey permit are possible, Emery cautioned. Otherwise, the bridges could be replaced before school open in fall.