Cedar Creek Bridge reopened for traffic

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 1, 2000

Residents who live in the northwestern portion of Butler County will find it easier to travel next week as the Butler County Road Department reopened a bridge on County Road 11.

The Cedar Creek Bridge has been closed since it was damaged by floods as a result of Hurricane Georges in 1998. After final testing by county road crews and the Alabama Department of Transportation on Monday, the opening of the bridge was made official on Tuesday morning when crews took down the "road closed" signs at both ends of the structure.

County Engineer Dennis McCall said this was an important project and that its reopening should come as good news to many residents and businesses of the county.

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"This is a most important bridge not just to the residents that live in that area, but also for the Butler County logging industry," McCall said. "That road is one of the main routes from Butler County to Selma and the detour that they have been taking was about 45 miles so this will be good news for them as well."

McCall said that before the bridge could be opened it had to pass several tests.

"Before we are allowed to open any new bridge it has to go through a thorough, hands-on inspection of every component of the bridge. The inspection is a joint project between the county and the Alabama Department of Transportation. Every bridge in the county undergoes this inspection at least once every two years. But, we have to do this type of inspection any time we open a new bridge too," he said.

One of the largest bridges in the county, the Cedar Creek Bridge was known to be deteriorating before the hurricane ever came through. Because the Federal Emergency Management Agency helped with the cost of rebuilding, the county was able to pay less then it would have if the hurricane had not stormed its way through Butler County.

"This is one that would have been closed or replaced within the next three to five years and we would have had to do it all with Butler County money," McCall said. "We were fortunate in that we were able to get some federal funding in order to rebuild the bridge."

In all, the project cost was estimated at about $600,000. Of that total, FEMA picked up 50 percent of the tab.

The bridge was structurally sound; however, the environment under the bridge had changed, making the bridge unstable.

"We were seeing a degradation of the streambed where it was undermining the structure, making the bridge like a table top," he said.

The parts of the old bridge also will help the county save a little cash. The road department has plans to use parts from the old Cedar Creek Bridge structure to fix two other bridges that were lost during Hurricane Georges. Timber bridges on Green Leaf Road and Bowden Bridge Road, near the Midway Community were washed out. They will both be rebuilt using components of the Cedar Creek Bridge.