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Repairs to begin on damaged bridge

By Michael Davis

State transportation officials were preparing Wednesday to repair a bridge damaged the day before when a tractor trailer slammed into its concrete supports, but said it likely won't be open for several more days.

Henry County Police said John T. Herman, 62, was traveling northbound on Interstate 75 Tuesday just before 11 a.m. when his truck collided with the supports of the bridge at Walt Stephens Road, between Eagle's Landing Parkway and Ga. Highway 138.

The crash damaged the bridge to an extent that state Department of Transportation officials would not allow traffic to pass over on Walt Stephens Road. Traffic was, however, allowed to pass under on I-75 later Tuesday afternoon.

DOT spokeswoman Dorothy Daniel said Wednesday that C.W. Matthews Contracting Company will perform the repairs, which entail filling the cracks with silicone and a sealant, but was not sure when they would start or be finished. The materials are not readily available.

“It won't take that long once they get the materials and get ready,” she said.

The DOT urged residents to use Jodeco, Blackhall and Flippen roads as alternate routes. Work will be performed overnight, and should it continue through this weekend, it will be timed to minimize impact to motorists heading to race weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The accident snarled traffic across Henry County on Tuesday, sending commuters onto surface streets for most of the afternoon.

Weveral motorists were seen turning around at a barricade at the bridge on Wednesday, despite a DOT sign placed at Speer Road announcing the road closure.

Several students were late getting to school Wednesday at Red Oak Elementary said Principal Mike Hightower. The school is on the west side of I-75 on Walt Stephens. Hightower said they served breakfast to several late-comers, and had relaxed restrictions on late arrivals.

“It's several miles out of the way for a number of parents, and we're trying to work with them,” Hightower said.

Most of the school's students live on the west side of the bridge, but at least two bus routes are effected that drop off and pick up students on the east side.

Alternate routes include using Jodeco Road to Blackhall Road north, or Ga. Highway 138 to Speer Road south, to access Walt Stephens Road.