Bridge closing: Commission to seek alternative measures

Published 7:35 pm Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Crenshaw County Commission voted to post bridge closings on Gourd Neck Road and look for alternative measures in order to make it passable for surrounding residents.

The unanimous vote came during the Commission’s regular Monday meeting after much discussion concerning the usage of the bridge by several people even though it is officially closed to traffic.

The Commission heard several comments from citizens at its Jan. 12 public hearing on the issue, with the majority wanting to keep the road and bridge passable, as many admitted that the bridge was presently still being used by those with farmland, cows, and adjoining property.

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County Engineer Benjie Sanders reiterated his point that he made at the Jan. public hearing.

“Now that we know people are using that road, we must either tear out the bridge or block it,” he said. “It’s just too dangerous for people to be crossing.”

But Commissioner Charlie Sankey, Jr., wanted to make another point clear about the road.

“We’re trying to vacate that area of the road—not close it,” Sankey said. “The bridge is already closed to traffic.”

Sankey said that the county could post the closing of the bridge to the public and put up signs.

“From the people I’ve spoken with, they believe that the county would minimize its liability by making it as public as possible,” he explained. “However, if we vacate a road, we never get it back.”

“I’ve come to the conclusion that if constituents continue to cross that bridge, they are doing it at their own risk,” Sankey said.

Sanders explained that the state would soon begin to step up its compliance reviews of roads and bridges, and the bridge in question would pose a problem with those reviews if it is still being used.

Commissioner Ronnie Blackmon said the county needed to get the bridge where people could not cross it at all, especially with the dangers in using it.

“I was told that there were other reasons, too, for the people wanting it closed other than just danger,” Sankey said, “things like illegal dumping, parents, teenagers,…even law enforcement.”