published Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Catoosa County commissioners support reopening Alexander’s Road bridge

by Beverly Carroll
Audio clip

Mike Helton

Catoosa County manager Mike Helton said the county has logged numerous complaints since the closing of the one-lane bridge between Meg Williams and Burning Bush roads at the southeast corner of Chickamauga Battlefield.

“We’ve had discussions with state and park officials and it appears as though they are going to redesign and rebuild the bridge,” he said. “However, they are qualifying this by saying it may be 2011 or 2012 before it take place. At this point, this is the best we can find out.”

Safety concerns prompted the closing of Alexander’s Bridge Road to auto traffic last week. Pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders still may use the 100-year-old bridge, officials said.

Commissioner Ken Marks pledged his support to getting the bridge road reopened.

“I think the park officials may want to close it permanently,” he said. “We need to let them know we are not interested in closing this road. But what we understand from (the Georgia Department of Transportation), it’s not going to be reopened until it’s fixed correctly.”

Commission Chairman Keith Greene suggested county officials develop some proposals for repairing or replacing the bridge to determine how much money is needed.

Sam Weddle, assistant manager for the Chickamauga and Chattanooga National Military Park, said it is too early to predict the bridge’s fate. A previous study of the bridge, which belongs to the National Park Service, lists options including replacement, rehabilitation or complete closure.

“The national park will always be interested in partnering with anybody who can help us address our common problems,” Mr. Weddle said. “We have not heard from the commission about this, but we are certainly interested in talking to them. This is going to take a while because we are just starting.”

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