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New bridges to cross: Construction begins on last series of replacement bridges

The bridge on Sexton Bridge Road (pictured) is constructed solely of timber. Construction to build a new, concrete, two-lane bridge will begin on July 10. By the end of 2018, Crenshaw Couty will have repairs to 16 bridges. Journal Photo/Shayla Terry

By: Shayla Terry

In 2007, Crenshaw County engineer Benjamin Sanders began advocating for improvement to the county’s bridges. 10 years later his work has come to fruition as the final phases of replacing old bridges has commenced.

On July 10, construction will begin for the rebuilding of the Sexton Bridge Rd bridge. The bridge is made solely of timber and has been of use for some time.

“The bridge is all timber, and it’s one lane,” said Sanders. “It can carry the weight of three tons, which means nothing bigger than a little car can go over it. An empty school bus can not go across it.”

Sexton Bridge Road is located towards the north of Crenshaw County. The Sexton bridge and two other bridges, one on Teague Road and West Robinson Road, are projected to be completely reconstructed within the next six months.

“This is a part of our ATRIP project, and we have already replaced 10 bridges under the program,” Sanders said. “After these three bridges, there will be a few more. In all there will be 16 bridges throughout the county that have been replaced or maintained through the program.”

ATRIP stands for Alabama Transportation and Rehabilitation and Improvement Program. Per the Alabama Department of Transportation, the purpose of this program is to rehabilitate and improve transportation infrastructure through the accelerated delivery of project funding. The program’s goal is to address critical needs projects across the state in an effort to rehabilitate and improve the in-place facilities and in some cases provide new facilities at locations throughout the state. The program’s focus is on essential needs relating to roads and bridges.

Crenshaw County was awarded just under $10 million from the program for its necessities. The county was awarded the funds in 2012.

“We’re getting closer to closing things out,” Sanders said. “We have two that will be let to contract in September, and the four remaining bridges will be let sometimes next year. We will probably wrap everything up about next summer.”

The Sexton bridge, and others like it, will be reconstructed from a one-lane timber bridge to a two land concrete structure.

“Sexton Bridge is on a dirt road,” Sanders said. “So, we don’t expect as many people having to detour. Plus, anything bigger than a car shouldn’t be crossing it anyway. It’s been closed to trucks for years. I don’t see it being a huge inconvenience.”

The next set of bridges that will received attention on County Road 59 are, however, of a higher priority.

“The repairs on County Road 59, like Lapine Highway, will be more of an inconvenience because there is more traffic there. It receives about 400 to 450 vehicles a day going across it, unlike Sexton Bridge which sees about 30 vehicles a day.”

Although inconvenience will occur for a short time, the improvements mean great things for Crenshaw County’s economic development.

“Once they are complete companies like Petrey Wholesale can use those bridges again for their shipment purposes. As of right now, no trucks can go on those bridges.”

Detour routes have already been established for the reconstruction phase.

After 10 years of work, Sanders says he is happy that all of the hard work and preparation paid off.

“To be funded, we already had to have these projects in a position to be show-ready for them to even be considered,” Sanders said. “Which is why we started several years ahead, to be in a good position to be funded.”

Sanders says he is happy that the repairs to the bridges put the county’s economic development at an increase.

“It’s having a huge impact because you can’t develop poultry houses, cut timber or build any kind of industry that requires heavy trucks with those low posting bridges. The potential of economic development alone impacts the county in a major way.”