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Bridge to be decommissioned Saturday

Paul Murray

Paul Murray

photo

J.D. Sumner

Broad Avenue Bridge

When the Thronateeska Heritage Center and the Georgia DOT asked us if we wanted to be involved in a decommissioning and commissioning ceremony for the Broad Avenue Bridge, our newly formed Southwest Georgia Veterans Coalition was honored to be asked.

The SOWEGA Veterans Coalition was formed in September 2010 to pass information amongst the various veterans groups in the area and to continue some type of veteran's recognition for Veterans Day weekend. It has been the driving force for the "Salute to Veterans" ceremony at the Civic Center Veterans Park Amphitheatre for the past two years. This coalition of veterans consists of representatives and Commanders of the American Legion Posts 30 and 512, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2785, Marine Corps League, Air Force Sergeants Association, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans Association and Fleet Reserve in Southwest Georgia.

Early last year, we met with members of Georgia DOT and Thronateeska at the Heritage Center to develop a plan for a Broad Avenue Bridge ceremony and discussed the various plaques that were still enshrined on the bridge. The plans were to take the plaques down and when the bridge was rebuilt, place the World War I dedication plaque back on to the new bridge. Since technically this would be a new bridge, I suggested that the bridge not only retain the dedication plaques to those who served in WWI, but also add a plaque dedicated to those who have served since. This was unanimously approved by all present. I later submitted the wording that would represent those who have served since WWI.

The plans for this bridge have been going on since 1987 and if anyone has ever watched different segments on TV that has described the serious deterioration and even collapse of our old bridges in the U.S., it is no wonder there was concern for this nearly 100-year-old bridge.

In the mid '80s, a Hurricane came through Albany and the city had no adequate escape route. Again, during the floods of the mid-'90s, the same problem and they were all shut down. This is one of many reasons the GDOT and city wants another reliable bridge across the Flint, plus adding another Clark Avenue bridge.

Many months after our meeting, publicity appeared about a "Save the Broad Avenue Bridge" site on Facebook. Truly a late, last-minute effort to change this to a pedestrian walkway, while DOT inspectors said it wasn't even safe to walk on it. I say "last minute" because, according to the officials that attended the public forums for the past five years, no one showed up in opposition or to save this bridge.

Our veterans group is not opposed to those who want to save the bridge. We are only there because we were asked and we will comply with that request to honor those that the bridge was dedicated to, with a special ceremony. When the U.S. Marine Corps Band found out about the ceremony, they asked to be part of it, this being the last performance of its type by the band.

The DOT could have just as well gone ahead with the plan of razing the bridge and then building it without any fanfare. But this bridge was built and dedicated in 1920 to those in Dougherty County who served in the "Great War" the war to end all wars. The "Last Doughboy" from the U.S., Frank Buckles, died last year. There are no WWI combat warriors left in the World. There is only the memorial of their sacrifice.

On Saturday at 11 o'clock, (the No. 11 has WWI significance as to the ending of WWI) behind the old Bridge House on Front Street, we would like all the people in the area to come together and participate in this event. It would be a special tribute for those to put aside their differences, those who would come to this special ceremony, not only to thank an award-winning military band, possibly for the last time, but also pay tribute to our veterans for whom the bridge stood for and will stand for again.

Paul B. Murray of Albany is ad hoc chairman of the SOWEGA Veterans Coalition and vice commander of VFW Post 2785.

Comments

Jack_Frost 2 years, 2 months ago

Wow. They really will let anyone write in the Herald these days.

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pberthoty 2 years, 2 months ago

Very well written article. The Albany Marine Corps Band is gone and now BRAC will be deciding on the Marine Base. How about a group trying to save the base now, not at the last minute. It is the largest employer in Albany. The closing of Firestone and Cooper will be nothing compared to losing the Marine Base.

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rock 2 years, 2 months ago

Check your figures...Phoebe Putney is the Largest employer in this area. As for Brac, there has not a decision IF there will even be a BRAC. This is an election year, it may happen, but I would not plan on it.

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dingleberry 2 years, 2 months ago

Those who worked within the fences for years, and are objective, know the value of the base vs the value it claims to provide. When it comes to BRAC, it is always a case of "not in my backyard" when payrolls are the main reason for existence. Since BRAC is always politically driven, perhaps "worth" will not be an issue.

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Amazed2 2 years, 2 months ago

Why would you be complementing yourself for the article you wrote Mr. Murray I guess noone said great article so you wrote yourself a attaboy!!

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Jack_Frost 2 years, 2 months ago

If he doesn't love himself, who will? It's not like he's all that likable from what I hear

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dingleberry 2 years, 2 months ago

Interesting article but I don't remember the hurricane of the '80s with no adequate escape route whatever that means. I do remember in the flood of '94 caused by Alberto, the old bridge was the only east-west emergency link for a time until it too was finally closed. Hence, I was surprised when the bridge suddenly became so fragile a few years ago when money was suddenly more plentiful. As for the proposed Clark bridge, I can't think of much that makes less sense as a taxpayer but then making sense is not a criterion these days.

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Jack_Frost 2 years, 2 months ago

You can't remember a hurricane in the 80's without adequate evacuation routes because there wasn't one. This is what happens when someone just makes crap up.

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pberthoty 2 years, 2 months ago

OK, so Pheobe has 3800 and the Marine Base now has 3000. They lost a lot of Marines. Phoebe is gobbling up all the hospitals but at one time the base had a lot more Marines and it is still listed at one of the largest employees in Albany. Semantics aside, why wait for BRAC? An award winning band for 2 years has already been deactivated. Years ago, Moody AFB in Valdosta won the best AF base in the US award and they made the BRAC closure. No one believed it, but, the people fought against it and won. A hurricane came through Albany in the mid-80's and dropped 2 pine trees on my house at midnight and caused a lot of damage in the area. It came up from the Southeast, so if you have to evacuate the county to the West, you are going to have to cross the Flint river. According to the GDOT and City, there aren't enought bridges to evacuate across the Flint if needed. Interestingly, the Broad Ave bridge was the 1st to open after the flood.

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Amazed2 2 years, 2 months ago

Hey pbertholy I thought you were writing this article about the veterans when in fact it looks like the real agenda is to debate BRAC and other issues unrelated ti the bridge decomissioning. If you would just shut up people would just lef the article die where it belongs.

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benh1936 2 years, 2 months ago

"In the mid '80s, a Hurricane came through Albany and the city had no adequate escape route. Again, during the floods of the mid-'90s, the same problem and they were all shut down. This is one of many reasons the GDOT and city wants another reliable bridge across the Flint, plus adding another Clark Avenue bridge."

*I first came to Albany back in 1956. Been here ever since. Never heard of that bridge closing except in the flood back in '94. It was the last to close and the first to open back up. Had to walk across it to get to work over on the east side. Sounds like somebody needs to do some fact checking. I guess nobody cares what an old man thinks, but I would sure hate to see it go. I will honor those veterans that bridge was dedicated to, but not happy this had to happen.*

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benh1936 2 years, 2 months ago

To pberthoty: Albany has had many hurricanes come through here, not sure I understand what that has to do with that bridge. It stayed open when others closed.

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Amazed2 2 years, 2 months ago

I have lived here for over 40 years and I never head anything about a hurricane in the 1980's. Sounds like people are making up stuff up to get attention to me.

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benh1936 2 years, 2 months ago

I have to agree. Is there some hidden agenda here?

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Amazed2 2 years, 2 months ago

Hey when exactly in the 1980's were we all trapped without an adequate escaple route? from a hurricane?? I am trying to rethink this and make sure I am not suffering from the early stages for dementia or something else?? Does anyone else remember this Fictional Hurricane and being trapped in the 1980's??????????????????///

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benh1936 2 years, 2 months ago

Not me, some real newsman needs to look into this.

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Amazed2 2 years, 2 months ago

Is the guy that wrote this articel getting his facts from the DOT or the City?? Hard to believe that we the City of Albany and DOT have been planning to demo and replace this old bridge s for 24 years now. According to the article by this guy he says since 1987?? The DOT might be a little slow but 2.4 Decades is a littel long in the planning stage. Probable more like they have been monitoring the continued deterioration of a 91 year old out dated structure they decided it was time to declare it unsafe. Now if they did not do the inspections and continued to let it be used and there was a failure of the structure then the DOT would be sued by all those same people who are now wanting to save the bridge. After 9 decades of wear and tear and many high water situations it is time to replace this old bridge and she has been a good one. Modern day foundation and bridge technics are light years ahead of the mule days of the 1920's. Lets all have a ceremony and a glass of fine wine or whatever and blow this baby out of the water and build us a new modern structure so all of the citizens of Albany can walk or drive safetly from east to west across the mighty Flint River.

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benh1936 2 years, 2 months ago

It is news to me. If they were thinking about it, they must have kept it a secret from us taxpayers, or the press did a bad job informing the public. I pretty much vote for the first option.Don't trust many politicians here or anywhere else. Most likely though, this guy did not do any fact checking. Is he a real writer for this paper? Don't recall reading anything by him before.

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benh1936 2 years, 2 months ago

Ad hoc chairman? Is that a fancy way of saying self appointed?

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Jack_Frost 2 years, 2 months ago

Yes. Yes it is...at least in this case.

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Spike 2 years, 2 months ago

Hurricanes that made landfall in the 1980's:

Allen in 1980

Alicia in 1983

Elena in 1985

Hugo in 1989

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benh1936 2 years, 2 months ago

But none closed that bridge?

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Amazed2 2 years, 2 months ago

I think the guy that wrote this article is just some guy that has been around town for several years. I think he must know somebody down at the paper and occassionally convinces them to let him write an article so he can get a big picture of himself in the newspaper. If you notice most people that write articles don't put a full blown picture of THEMSELVES in the paper. Well I checked my records and my house did not suffer any damage from hurricanes here in the 1980's so i guess my memory is still good. I was beginning to think I was confused. I asked serveral other people since yesterday and nobody remembers ALbany being hit by a hurricane in the 80's or anything about exit routes or anything like that being needed. Like somebody said above I think the Albany Herald should check stories for FACT if they are going to let some guy that wondered in the door of the Albany Herald write articles.????????????

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benh1936 2 years, 2 months ago

We had a few storms come through, Kate and Olga(?) maybe some others, but no bridge closing until 94 that I know of.

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Amazed2 2 years, 2 months ago

Had to look up definition of "ad hoc". according to dictionary it mean "for this purpose". Other workds associated with it are Peculiar, special and especial. I guess this means that Mr. Murray is a peculiar special person for this purpose of whick I am confused that he is??????? Welcome great special peculiar for this purpose Chairman of SOWEGA veterans coalition. Glad to have you here on planet earth. I

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Jack_Frost 2 years, 2 months ago

Murray appointed himself chairman, and throws the "ad hoc" in an effort to not really make people mad. The reality is, most everyone who knows him personally thinks he's a freaking joke.

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Amazed2 2 years, 2 months ago

Since seeing reading his article about the bridge I few people have told me just what you said. They say he tries to take over other organizations too, especially anything to do with a charity functions so he can get his name and picture in the paper.

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Jack_Frost 2 years, 2 months ago

Yep, that's pretty much his MO. Kind of sad really. He also apparently that into actually putting forth any effort with these charity functions.

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benh1936 2 years, 2 months ago

So, not the big wig he thinks he is? Shame, I respect most of the veterans I know. I know some fine men that have served.

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Jack_Frost 2 years, 2 months ago

There are a lot of good veterans out there, that's for sure. Some of those great veterans have no use for this guy either from what they're telling me.

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benh1936 2 years, 2 months ago

Well now, guess he is "special" then.

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benh1936 2 years, 2 months ago

I don't know the fellow but he does not impress me much.

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Jack_Frost 2 years, 2 months ago

So, does anyone at the Herald bother to fact check these columns? After all, it's clear that Mr. Murray can't be bothered to get his facts right.

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Amazed2 2 years, 2 months ago

I swear he took his Mug Shot down for a couple days over the weekend or at least it was not loading on my computer. Well I guess after the ceremony he could not stand seeing himself in the news so he posted a glossy 8 x 10 of himself again. He apparently makes up stuff to make fluff up his writings.

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