Local fisherman Talmadge Green hopes for a good catch near the Broad Avenue Bridge in this file photo. Yaz Johnson, whose father Johnny Johnson helped to break down the barriers for blacks working for the city of Albany, wants the commission to name the new bridge after his father.
ALBANY, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Transportation and the city of Albany will officially decommission the Broad Avenue Bridge during a ceremony Feb. 11, city officials say.
Want to Go?
WHEN: February 11, 2012.
TIME: 11 a.m.
WHERE: Intersection of Broad Avenue and Front Street.
The bridge, which is facing demolition due to erosion of its footings caused by the waters of the Flint River, was originally commissioned or dedicated to the service and sacrifice of World War 1 veterans.
City Engineer Bruce Maples said that GDOT and the city have set the Feb. 11 ceremony to officially decommission the bridge ahead of demolition, with plans to recommission the new bridge following construction.
“Essentially we’re going to have a ceremony to remove the plaques and honor the vets who were originally meant to be honored when the bridge was built. We’ll have the Marine Band there to play and it will be done in a dignified way,” Maples said. “And the plan, as I understand it, is to recommission the bridge for all veterans from Albany and Dougherty County when the new bridge is built.”
Thronateeska Heritage Center Executive Director Tommy Gregors, who has been working with both GDOT and the city to properly document the history of the bridge and to advocate for historical recreations to be made on the new bridge for the last five years, said he’s working with local veterans groups to “broaden the scope” of recognition for the new bridge.
“I’ve attended every meeting that’s been held on the bridge and once the decision was made that the bridge needed to be replaced, we’ve been an advocate to document the history of the bridge, and honor its status, and that’s when the state DOT historical folks got involved,” Gregors said. “So we’ve been consulting with them to make sure we can get some elements of the bridge to store them here, and get the original plaques off the bridge. The last conversations we had with the veterans groups is to broaden scope of recognition for the new bridge.”
One of the plaques on the bridge reads: “As the enduring expression of a community’s Pride and gratitude, this bridge was erected A.D. 1920 as a memorial to those who went from Dougherty County to serve their country in the great war.”
Gregors said that he’s talked with the Veterans Coalition of Albany, American Legion Post 30 and Post 512, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Marine Corps League, Air Force Sergeants Association, the Disabled American Veterans, the Vietnam Veterans and Fleet Reserve.
City and state officials have come under pressure from a citizens group to save the bridge and transform it into one that is for pedestrian use-only.
An online petition circulated by the group Wednesday, had 500 signatures by Thursday, as group members continued their push.
The group may have more time to garner support.
Maples said Thursday that he’s heard GDOT is pushing back the bid date for contractors to submit bids to demolish the bridge. Although Maples couldn’t say when the new date was, some have speculated that it could be as late as March before the bids are let on the project.