A new bridge over Barnetts Creek on Stagecoach Road is scheduled to open to traffic Thursday afternoon, replacing a 49-year-old bridge deemed structurally deficient.
Lanes were striped Wednesday, and signs are expected to be installed Thursday morning, the last remaining task to be done before the bridge can be opened to traffic, Georgia Department of Transportation Construction Project Manager Charles Bradley Jr. said.
Stagecoach Road has been closed since construction began in July 2013.
Opening of the bridge will give local residents quick access to nearby state road 111.
The new concrete bridge, about 9.4 miles northeast of Cairo, is 245 feet long and 28 feet wide, with a construction cost of $1,174,886.70.
The previous wood-and-concrete bridge was 105 feet long and 24 feet wide and was built in 1965.
Brad Cleveland, area engineer at the GDOT office in Donalsonville, said the old bridge as being in a state of disrepair and in need of replacement.
A Georgia DOT inspection deemed the bridge to be structurally deficient, which does not mean it was unsafe or in danger of falling. The term means a bridge is in need of some repair or, perhaps, eventual replacement.
A bridge is classified as structurally deficient if the deck, superstructure or substructure is rated in “poor” condition. A bridge also can also be classified as structurally deficient if its load-carrying capacity is significantly below current design standards or if a waterway below frequently overtops the bridge during floods.
A deficient bridge left open to traffic typically requires significant maintenance and repairs to remain in service and eventual rehabilitation or replacement to address deficiencies. To remain in service, structurally deficient bridges often have weight limits that restrict the gross weight of vehicles using the bridges to less than the maximum weight typically allowed by law.
Georgia DOT is required by federal law to inspect every publicly owned bridge structure in the state at least once every two years. The definition of bridge structure is such that it includes drainage culverts under roadways.
Georgia has more than 15,000 “bridge structures,” but only about 60 percent are bridges in the customary sense of the word.