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Historic Rex bridge gives way to $5.32 million replacement

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

A historic, one-lane, steel-truss bridge in what was once downtown Rex is going to be replaced, Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) officials have announced.

The current bridge is 18 feet wide and crosses Big Cotton Indian Creek near a small waterfall and a big red barn. It has crossed the creek since 1932.

A stoplight at each end of the steel bridge regulates the one-lane traffic along Rex Road in the east edge of Clayton County.

"You know it's old," said Malik Seiglar, who cuts hair in his barbershop a few dozen feet from the bridge. "There is a little dip in it, where the cars hit. Trucks aren't allowed to cross it, but sometimes we get a 18-wheeler who's just lost."

Though Seiglar uses the Depression-era bridge as a landmark when giving directions to Malik's Barbershop, he's known the bridge was going to be replaced sooner or later, and was glad to hear Friday the new bridge project is moving forward.

GDOT announced more than $5.32 million has been dedicated to build the new bridge. It is slated for completion in July 2009.

"It just needed to be replaced," said Katina Leer, a GDOT spokeswoman. "It was a one-lane bridge and it was not very conducive to getting traffic through there. The existing bridge and guard rail did not meet current safety standards. There were potential safety hazards."

The bridge has been listed for replacement by GDOT since at least 2000.

Some locals, though, said they've never had any problems with the current bridge. One man, waiting to get his hair cut on Friday afternoon, said he drives across the one-lane structure every day and never notices it.

"It's just a bridge," he said.

In addition to structural and traffic problems, Leer said, the bridge also is too low, and floods during heavy rains.

"We haven't seen it this year," said Seiglar, "but if it rains hard enough, if it rains for like a couple of days, it gets pretty high. I've seen water running across the bridge."

The 76-year-old bridge will not be destroyed, because of it's historic value, but will be converted into a walking path and turned over to Clayton County, Leer said.

The replacement will be built about 540 feet south of the current bridge. It will be built out of concrete with a decorative, concrete guard rail.

"The new bridge is going to be 650 feet long and 40 feet wide," Leer said. "It's basically going to be two, 12-foot travel lanes each way, 10 foot shoulders and sidewalks."

C.W. Matthews Contracting Company, Inc., of Marietta, has been awarded the contract for the bridge, but no starting date has been set.