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Group launches online petition to save bridge

The Broad Avenue Bridge was condemned by the Georgia DOT after major damage to the footings was discovered.

The proposed replacement bridge for the Broad Avenue bridge.

The proposed replacement bridge for the Broad Avenue bridge.

— A group trying to save the Broad Avenue bridge from demolition has launched an online-petition meant to help sway public opinion and convince local and state government leaders to spare the city's oldest bridge.

More than two years ago, the Georgia Department of Transportation condemned the bridge from both vehicular and foot traffic after divers discovered that the footings of the bridge had largely been eroded away by the current of the Flint River.

In response, GDOT and the city of Albany devised a plan to demolish the current bridge and replace it with a more modern structure. A move that is supposed to occur this spring.

But a group formed on Facebook by advocates of the bridge launched an online petition Tuesday pushing city and state officials to spare the bridge and keep it for more pedestrian-friendly uses.

Organized by local historian Betty Rehberg, the Save Albany's Historic Bridge Facebook group created the petition at change.org and began circulating it around the web Tuesday morning.

"A restored Bridge is vital for establishing Albany as a destination for heritage-based travel, cultural events, and eco-tourism. As one of only seven similar open-spandrel arch bridges in the State of Georgia, our Bridge is a masterpiece of engineering that has been celebrated in postcards and photographs since its construction, and it continues to this day as an instantly recognizable image in advertising by public and private groups," The petition states.

"Our city’s potential to be an exciting and vibrant community worth visiting can only be realized by raising up our riverfront as the treasure of the region. The Bridge must be the jewel in the crown of our Riverfront Revival. Its graceful design and undulating arches will create the memorable architectural core of the area."

The bridge that is slated to replace the current bridge would have structural supports on the banks of the river alone, unlike the current bridge which is revered for its arches that span the river.

In a letter written to city and state leaders late last year, Rehberg pointed to an effort in Columbus to revitalize its 14th Street bridge as an example of how the bridge could be saved rather than demolished and rebuilt.

According to the city of Columbus-Muscogee County Planning Department, the bridge was closed to pedestrian traffic due to “structural deficiencies” with its footings, much like the Broad Avenue Bridge, and is in the midst of a $5.2 million overhaul that will enhance the streetscape, add new sidewalks, and redevelop the surface of the bridge. Improvements also call for the reconstruction of the bridge footings and scour protection, according to the information on the planning department’s website.

Additionally, Columbus is funding a $4.4 million plaza project in conjunction with the bridge work. The project is supposed to be completed by next Spring.

City Engineer Bruce Maples told the Herald back in November that GDOT originally planned to rehabilitate the bridge and did cost estimates to repair it.

To repair the footings, he said, GDOT engineers said it would cost roughly $4.5 million because they’d have to build coffer dams and install caissons to fix the eroded footings.

For the parts of the bridge above-water, Maples said the state estimated that it would cost several more millions of dollars to repair damage to the arches and the road surface in order to make the bridge stable.

In total, GDOT estimated it would cost in excess of $9 million to rehabilitate the bridge. Doing so would increase the lifespan of the bridge by 35 years, he said, compared to a new bridge, which would be roughly 100 years.

“From a cost perspective they’re relatively in the same ballpark,” Maples said in a November 30, 2011 article in the Herald. “But when you look at the life expectancy ... they’d get more bang out of their buck building a new bridge than rehabilitating the current one, is what I’m hearing.”

City officials haven't said if a separate

study has been done to see what the cost of repairing the bridge to a level where it would be safe for pedestrians would be.

Comments

rock 2 years, 10 months ago

Come on Let the bridge go down. Albany has to grow, develope and prosper, and throwing good money after a bad bridge is silly at best. Has anyone but a few really missed going over the bridge???? Let's build an Albany looking to the future and not an Albany that wants to stay in the past.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 10 months ago

You are entitled to your opinion but Albany has destroyed so many of it's past and has put up new buildings, but destination places like Thomasville, Savannah, etc. have kept their past and they profit from it. Think about it for a minute. Nobody will come to see new structures, but old ones, yes. Plus, Albany will benefit if it can create a river walk.

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rock 2 years, 10 months ago

Theres is a river walk in Albany, has been for several years. Why do we need a delapidated bridge. Show me one person who has traveled any distance to marvel at the broad street bridge since it was condemed. Oh, the river walk is really beautiful, only floods when it rains.

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whattheheck 2 years, 10 months ago

The bridge would be one place the river could actually be seen in two directions since the rest of the walk is in woods or too far to river. It would be an anchor for the area people actually visit.

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SickofitAll_bany 2 years, 10 months ago

The bridge is PART of that River-walk. It is old, but it can be repaired. It is similar to some of the most beautiful bridges in America and in Europe. Have you actually LOOKED at it????

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SickofitAll_bany 2 years, 10 months ago

I agree. We only tear it down here. We have lost our personality, our sense of community. Keep the bridge!

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SickofitAll_bany 2 years, 10 months ago

This bridge is truly a bridge from the past to the future. It is also a dedicated War Memorial. We will have another auto bridge at Society anyway. How many auto bridges do you want or need? Let this beauty stay and become part of the Riverwalk. Maybe you never use it, but some of us love it at the River front.

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mik178 2 years, 10 months ago

This is a topic that should not even be talked about. Downtown Albany aready has several venues for outdoor activities and the sad part is that our city cannot manage to have more than one or two events a year in these places and the events that do happen only draw the attention of certian groups. The last thing we need is to spend more money on something just so we can say we have it. We have a civic center that does nothing but host an arena football team. Never see any new entertainment there. The ampitheater has maybe one or two shows a year and that includes marti gras. Turtle park and the aquairium which other than school field trips may draw once or twice a year visitors. The point is that all of these places require tax payer money to maintain and only a small group of taxpayers really get any benefit from them. We need to start spending money on things that will benefit the community as a whole and start making use of the places we have. As for the bridge if you want it to be there petition to let it stay the way it is or start asking for private funding to maintaine it. My guess is people will then decide bridge just has to go!

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ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 10 months ago

mik178: you make some very practical comments. Unfortunately, the civic center has developed such a poor reputation in the entertainment world, that no one will even talk about coming to Albany. The civic center could/should be the crown jewel of downtown, but, instead it is relegated to 6-8 football games a year and a couple of high school basketball tournaments . And, as far as making the bridge more "pedestrian-friendly"...exactly where are the pedestrians going to walk on the east side of the bridge? There's nothing to see! Junk yards, railroad tracks, a juke-joint and an abandoned liquor distillery that was ransacked for its copper a couple of years ago. Heck, I don't DRIVE on that side of the bridge unless I absolutely have to! I understand those that want to preserve our heritage, but, I'm not sure saving this bridge accomplishes much of anything else.

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SickofitAll_bany 2 years, 10 months ago

That would be a future phase, a walk on the east side. Scroll up and look at the butt-ugly proposed "new" bridge. This old bridge has class, which is sadly lacking in this town.

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SickofitAll_bany 2 years, 10 months ago

Uh...read the story. There is a petition, at 500 signatures in less than 2 days.

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IQ_ABOVE_IDIOT 2 years, 10 months ago

The whole idea appears to have been hatched in a zen hen house by some old hippy biddies sitting in a circle drinking herbal teas and polishing their crystals. This bridge is not the Pont Neuf in Paris or the Golden Gate in San Francisco. Use your energy for good works and worthwhile causes; not for something as worthless as a dilapidated bridge in Albany. I suggest you contact the U.S. Army and offer the bridge for use as a target for demolition training then sell tickets to attend the event. You could raise thousands of dollars for something that could actually benefit Albany.

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SickofitAll_bany 2 years, 10 months ago

No, hatched by a Facebook history preservation group, artists and people that actually care about Albany. quite a mix really. Oh and some of us actually attend commission and other meetings here because we care. Do you? Do you care if Albany survives or fails? I bet you will pick up an move to Lee County like so many others.

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IQ_ABOVE_IDIOT 2 years, 10 months ago

I suspect the idea to "save" this dilapidated piece of junk was hatched in a zen hen house by a gaggle of old hippy biddies while sipping herbal tea and polishing their healing crystals. Offer the bridge to the U. S. Army for demolition training and sell tickets to the razing. Another $10 million could be saved by not replacing the bridge. It is not really necessary anyway.

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SickofitAll_bany 2 years, 10 months ago

I sincerely doubt your IQ is really “above idiot.” The city plans TWO new bridges for autos. We really do not even need one, but two? Well save this old bridge as a pedestrian bridge for the people that want to use it as part of the River-walk, cheaper than tearing down and rebuilding. If you HAVE to have another auto bridge, well they already have that in the works too. It will be at Society Ave. Go to a meeting sometime. We taxpayers waste money on all kinds of things that bring Albany's economy DOWN. We are building low income housing that no one even lives in. This will be an attraction to the young professionals that actually WANT to live downtown. THIS will be money well spent for a nice change. The funding would still mostly come from the Federal Government (yes still out of our pockets) but it will BENEFIT the tax-PAYERS for a change, instead of the people that are living on the Gub'ment teat. Albany looks like a slum, fix it now before it is unfit to attract or keep ANYONE with cash to spend here. You want industry and jobs or more slums? Scroll up and look at the “new” hideous bridge they insist we have to have.

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SickofitAll_bany 2 years, 10 months ago

@IQ_ABOVE_IDIOT No hippies, or "gaggles of hens" here. Never drank herbal tea and I am a conservative voter. I suspect I care more about the fate of my hometown than you do. Some people cannot see the forest for the trees. I wonder what you think would "better benefit" Albany? What will bring new people, new business here? What will keep them here????

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ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 9 months ago

Just because we disagree with each other regarding the bridges doesn't mean we don't care about the future of Albany, thank you very much. I do believe that downtown can be viable again, but, not with such boondoggles as the aquarium and the decades of mismanagement of the civic center, etc. And, good luck with that "walk on the east side" thing. What a joke!

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