• 48°

Citizens turn out against road closing

It was standing room only Monday morning in the Crenshaw County Commission’s chambers as several residents turned out for the public hearing on the closing of a portion of Gourd Neck Road.

Several of those who spoke claimed that the road was being used and the bridge was being crossed every day even though it has supposedly been closed for several years.

“The action to close this portion of Gourd Neck Road (which lies in Section 32) was brought before the Commission by the adjoining property owners,” County Engineer Benjie Sanders said. “The bridge in question has been closed for four years, and that’s a big issue because the bridge is not safe to be crossed.”

Sanders said the bridge was not able to be repaired, and that it would take an estimated cost of $260,000 to replace it with a concrete bridge, which could possibly be one option for the county.

“The second option would be for the county to put up a rock crossing, which would cost about $40,000,” he said. “The problem is we’ve got dozens of structures on paved roads that we can’t get fixed now, much less this one.”

Resident Jesse Weeks spoke to the Commission on the issue.

“There is an elderly man who lives on that road who needed an ambulance,” Weeks explained. “The ambulance went around the wrong way. If the bridge was open, they could have gone straight through to get to him.”

Weeks added that if people think a road is closed, they will more likely illegally dump garbage there as well.

“Punish those who illegally dump where they shouldn’t—don’t punish us by closing the road,” he said. “Plus, the game warden even drives across it…I think a lot of people think those signs are just put there for insurance and liability purposes.”

Weeks also said that when the county had first put up a barricade, it was taken down. When the county put a dirt block at the road, people just drove over it.

“I think a rock crossing would work,” Commission Chairman Ronnie Hudson said.

“The problem is if I’m aware that you’re using this road and bridge, then it’s a liability to me to let you continue to use it, so I’m going to have to go down there and look at it,” Sanders said.

Several of those present stated that if the county wouldn’t repair the road and bridge and make it safe and passable, they would do it in order to keep it open.

“We’ve got equipment, and we’ll do whatever we have to to fix it,” resident Raymond Richburg said. “We just ask that we get treated as good as the Koreans do.”

The Commission could not vote on the issue during the regular meeting because Commissioner Charlie Sankey, who represents that district, was not present due to a family emergency.