GDOT weighs Worth wooden bridge replacement

The Melton Road bridge was built in 1986 and the creosote-soaked timber is decaying, splitting and cracking
Melton Road Bridge Worth

POULAN, GA – Trees shade the wooden Town Creek bridge on a quiet dirt road in Worth County. It’s charming, but motorists who drive across the weathered boards might see it differently.

The Melton Road bridge was built in 1986 and the creosote-soaked timber is decaying, splitting and cracking. Nails occasionally work their way out of the timber boards and end up in tires, Worth County Director of Public Works John Merritt III said.

“Over the years that bridge has gotten old and dilapidated. It’s served its purpose,” Merritt said. He’s been with public works 40 years and helped build the bridge located two miles southwest of Poulan.

The Georgia Department of Transportation agrees and has determined the bridge needs to be replaced. Before that happens the Department would like to hear what the public has to say about the proposed replacement and the detour it would require during construction. At this time construction is anticipated to start in fiscal year 2025, subject to change. It’s a needed upgrade, Merritt said.

“(The bridge) has got a six ton load limit on it now. It gets farm equipment and periodically it gets logging trucks. There are probably six or seven houses on either side of the bridge. When we get heavy rainfall, that bridge has taken all it can take of water. There’s nothing we can put in there that’s going to handle the water other than a bridge,” Merritt said. The county has replaced some old bridges with culverts.

Georgia DOT wants to replace the 72-foot long bridge with one that will be 120 feet in length. It would also be slightly wider with two, 10-foot lanes and two-foot shoulders. The new bridge would be built in the same spot so the road is expected to close for eight to 12 months for construction. Detour roads would be Spooner Road, Bobcat Road, state Route (SR) 33, PT Salter Road and SR 256. The public would be notified in advance of the closure.

Information about the proposed replacement and detour is expected to be posted online Aug. 1 at http://www.dot.ga.gov/AboutGDOT/PublicOutreach. Written statements can be submitted to State Environmental Administrator Eric Duff, Georgia Department of Transportation, 600 W. Peachtree St. NW – 16th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30308. Comments submitted online and by mail will be accepted until Aug. 31.

Georgia DOT programs help county governments replace bridges that don’t meet current design standards and have structural issues unlikely to be fixed with repairs, which helps reduce the number of bridges that have weight limits or have been closed. Total cost to replace the Town Creek bridge is estimated at $1.2 million, which includes preliminary engineering, right of way purchase and construction.