HOLLYWOOD, Ala. — The old County Road 213 bridge over Mud Creek was built decades ago along with the original U.S. Highway 72, which connected Scottsboro, Ala., to points northward such as Stevenson and Bridgeport.
Despite a listing on the National Register of Historic Places, the dilapidated two-lane concrete span must be replaced in order for school buses and other travelers to cross it safely, according to Jackson County Engineer Philip Widner.
The bridge replacement is part of the first phase of a three-phase, multimillion-dollar project to make major road improvements throughout Jackson County, Widner said.
The first phase, estimated to cost between $5.5 million and $6 million, consists of three bridge projects in locations where school buses cannot cross safely, he said, and resurfacing about nine miles of County Road 17.
Alabama's Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program is a state-administered federally funded highway program that pays up to 80 percent of approved projects. Statewide, about $1 billion in federal funding is earmarked for such projects, Widner said.
Jackson County "already got almost $6 million in projects approved in just the first phase," he said.
Ordinarily, the county receives only about $500,000 a year in federal funding, he said, "but that's just not enough to do the bigger projects like the Mud Creek job, and the County Road 17 job."
The fact that the Mud Creek bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places has Widner looking into requirements for its demolition because there is no alternative to putting the replacement bridge in the same spot.
Gerry Teal, co-owner of the Mud Creek Restaurant with his brother-in-law Billy Carver, said the old bridge doesn't get much use anymore and it's still in rough shape.
Teal, whose restaurant sits at the southern foot of the bridge, said he guessed the replacement plan is "a good thing."
The bridge project "is no big deal" because there's not enough traffic for anyone to be inconvenienced when they can take the new Highway 72 around, he said.
The work on the Mud Creek bridge and the other two bridges -- one on County Road 151 over Bryant Creek and another on County Road 44 over Dry Creek -- will total almost $3 million, while the County Road 17 resurfacing project is estimated at about $1.5 million, Widner said.
Submittals for the second phase aren't approved yet, he said, but the county should get word on the approved phase two projects sometime this month. About $300 million in funding should be allotted statewide for the second round of projects, he said.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...