Mount Ta­bor bridge re­opens

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - GABRIEL KHOULI gkhouli@cov­news.com

The Mount Ta­bor Road bridge over the Yel­low River is open again.

Orig­i­nally dam­aged in a 2009 flood, the bridge had been closed since Feb. 13 so it could be re­built from the riverbed up. It re­opened to pub­lic traf­fic Thurs­day.

Re­pairs were com­pleted by At­lanta-based McCarthy Im­prove­ment Co.; the cost was $594,780, ac­cord­ing to Ed McWhorter, pro­ject man­ager for McCarthy.

New­ton County Chair­man Keith El­lis said re­pairs were funded us­ing 2011 SPLOST money.

Mount Ta­bor Road is a pop­u­lar route for some res- idents in north­ern New­ton County, par­tic­u­larly those who live off Cook and Mount Zion roads and want to take In­ter­state 20. The road con­nects Cook Road to Al­mon Road just north of the I-20 in­ter­change.

The par­tial bridge re­place­ment not only re­opens the

road to pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles, but also al­lows larger ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing school buses, fire trucks and larger trucks, to use it again.

New­ton County Sher­iff Ezell Brown said his of­fice has re­ceived many calls about the road clos­ing, and he said re­sponse times to the area should im­prove now that the bridge has re­opened.

The bridge was dam­aged by heavy flood­ing in Septem­ber 2009 that washed away part of the east bank and ex­posed the pil­ings of the piers and left them un­sta­ble. For­mer county en­gi­neer Kevin Wal­ter said at the time the ex­posed pil­ings could al­low the “bridge to move or fall.”

The bridge was re­opened later in 2009, but it was down­graded by the state so that ve­hi­cles weigh­ing more than 8 tons — in­clud­ing school buses and other large ve­hi­cles — weren’t al­lowed to travel on it. McCarthy re­moved the mid­dle sec­tion of the bridge and the three piers and re­placed them, in­stalling two new piers, said McCarthy Su­per­in­ten­dent Robert Vick. In­stead of two 40-foot spans over the river it­self, McCarthy in­stalled one 80-foot span, which pre­vented it from hav­ing to in­stall a third pier right in the mid­dle of the river, Vick said; the mid­dle pier used to catch river de­bris. Chair­man El­lis ded­i­cated the bridge re­open­ing to county Pub­lic Works Di­rec­tor Robert Grif­fith, who is re­cov­er­ing from a stroke he suf­fered re­cently at work. El­lis said Grif­fith is do­ing much bet­ter. Grif­fith has worked for the county for 20-plus years, and El­lis said he’s “like a grand­daddy” to some em­ploy­ees and “helps ev­ery­body.”

Michael Barr, New­ton County School Sys­tem di­rec­tor of sup­port ser­vices, and New­ton County Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien both at­tended the open­ing, and a school bus and a fire truck were driven across the bridge to show it is safe for all traf­fic. Com­mis­sioner Nancy Schulz, who uses the road to travel from her home to her busi­ness, The Oaks Golf Course, said she was ex­cited by the road re­open­ing and knew many other res­i­dents would be glad for the quick ac­cess to I-20.

The bridge was ini­tially set to re­open Sept. 18, but re­opened 21 days ahead of time.

Gabriel Khouli/the Cov­ing­ton News

The Mount Ta­bor Road bridge over the Yel­low River re­opened af­ter re­pairs to fix dam­age from a 2009 flood.

Gabriel Khouli/the Cov­ing­ton News

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