A project to replace the Salem Road bridge is getting underway and the road is set to close on Aug. 7 for the replacement.
The proposal approved by the county in May was to demolish the current bridge and build a new one that replicates the steel truss look of the current bridge, which was built in 1929. The contractor and county also agreed to save a piece of the original steel truss as a memento.
However, the general manager of a local transportation company said he wants to negotiate with the general contractor, Southeastern Site Development of Newnan, to try and save the entire bridge at no additional cost. David Wild of Chubb Contracting Corporation told the Daily News that he wants to try and offer transport of the bridge at the same cost that is slated for demolition.
Scott Stokes, president of Southeastern, told the Daily News he was “absolutely” open to meeting with Wild. He said the company would consider all options on the project. The current demolition plan includes scrapping the steel from the old bridge, other than the 10 x 15-foot beam to be saved for the county, which will offset demolition costs.
Before bidding started on the bridge in May, Chubb had furnished its cost to transport the bridge to all the contractors who bid on the project, because Wild said it is the only qualified company in the area. The county had asked for bid options that included transportation or demolition, to see the cost difference and choose which was more feasible.
Southeastern’s bid for the project with demolition of the old bridge was about $192,000 less than with the proposal for transportation. Wild claims some of the contractors had costs on top of his transportation cost during bidding, but, regardless, said he now wants to come back to the table with a lower cost because he has volunteers willing to help.
Wild said if he can meet with Southeastern and match the demolition price, the move would be a “win-win” because it wouldn’t cost taxpayers any extra money and the bridge would be preserved. Chubb Contracting has worked on projects like installing the mega ramp at Pyne Road Park and providing cranes for work on the Carmike Cinemas LaGrange 10 movie theater downtown and LaGrange College construction.
Wild has proposed to keep the bridge in storage on his land on Bartley Road for up to 10 years. He told the Daily News he wants to see if there is public support for the plan.
“All we need to do is have the construction company to meet with us and figure out if can do it or not,” Wild said.
Emery said the bridge replacement project has been years in the making and the county took extra steps to make the process as open and transparent as possible to the community to gain input on how best to proceed. Public hearings and town hall meetings in the Salem Road area gained public comments and Emery said the plan to replace the bridge and build a new one that replicates the original’s design received approval from attendees.
Emery said Wild’s proposal to move the bridge and whether he can accomplish it for the same price that Southeastern had proposed for demolition is something Chubb and Southeastern will have to work out. The County Commission in May voted to award Southeastern the contract for the project at a set cost, so the company is obligated to meet that. As contractor, Southeastern also chooses what companies it will subcontract with.
“The general contractor has to answer to Troup County and fulfill its contract to Troup County,” Emery said.
Emery did note one issue he saw with the removal idea is that the county doesn’t have a place to put the bridge, and it was unclear what the cost of moving it from storage on Wild’s land would be if and when it decided to do so. That would add more cost to the county, he said, which is one reason he recommended to the commission in May to go with the bid that included demolition, because he believed transporting the bridge a second time would likely double the initial transportation cost.
“Up until then I kept all options on table,” Emery said. “I looked at every option as objectively as I could. After the bids came is in when I made my recommendation from the bids I saw and prices I saw in writing.”
Whether the bridge is transported or demolished, the new bridge will be more structurally sound and able to accommodate more traffic. It will again open the road up to heavy vehicles like school buses and fire trucks that have been unable to use it since the original bridge’s capacity rating was lowered to 5 tons a few years ago.
The new bridge will use a steel truss design similar to the original. Stokes said the design is a patina style and will have weathered steel, which has a rusted look, giving it aesthetics more like the old bridge. The community held a commemoration of the bridge’s history in June with a ceremony and Emery said his department is working with the Troup County Archives to distribute information to the public about the bridge.
Southeastern has a 180-day build plan for the new bridge and started last week on clearing around the current bridge.
Emery said he hoped the community will be as proud of the new bridge as the original.
“There are a lot of real good reasons that bridge has to be replaced,” Emery said. “We felt to preserve the scenic character of area, this was the best concept to go with.”