published Sunday, September 1st, 2013

Walker County, Ga., bridge unlikely to hamper Civil War re-enactment

Surveyor Jeremey Thompson, left, and Surveyor Sean Neely, both employees of Chattanooga-based RLS Group, on Thursday check the elevation of recently installed beams at the state Route 136 bridge over West Chickamauga Creek under construction in rural Walker County, Ga.
Surveyor Jeremey Thompson, left, and Surveyor Sean Neely, both employees of Chattanooga-based RLS Group, on Thursday check the elevation of recently installed beams at the state Route 136 bridge over West Chickamauga Creek under construction in rural Walker County, Ga.
Photo by Tim Omarzu.

About 4,000 Civil War re-enactors have signed up to participate in the Sept. 19-22 re-enactment of the Battle of Chickamauga at Mountain Cove Farms in Walker County, Ga.

County Coordinator David Ashburn hopes the re-enactors and spectators en route to the rural site pay attention to road signs -- and not their GPS navigation systems -- to get there. That's because GPS may lead them to an unfinished bridge on state Route 136 over West Chickamauga Creek, he said. Kensington Road also is closed near the bridge.

"We'll have big [directional] signs up throughout the county," Ashburn said. "You hope people pay attention."

Drivers from the west on Route 136 can avoid the bridge repair work by heading south on state Route 193, he said. Drivers from the west on Route 136 can avoid it by heading south on state Route 341.

John Culpepper, the city manager of Chickamauga who's also a Civil War re-enactor, is coordinator of the battle's 150th anniversary re-enactment at Mountain Cove Farms.

"It just makes it a little more confusing as how to get down there," Culpepper said. "We're going to have troopers at each intersection. It'll be OK."

The bridge repair was supposed to be finished by the end of July, but construction was delayed because a large Tennessee Valley Authority electrical transmission line couldn't be moved quickly. The Georgia Department of Transportation revised the bridge completion date to Jan. 31, 2014.

GDOT found the old bridge to be structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.

The new $1.7 million bridge, supported by six thick columns sunk into the creek bed, is designed to handle heavy traffic because Route 136 is a truck route.

Other advantages it will have over the old bridge, which was knocked down and hauled away, include shoulders more than 6 feet wide, compared to the old bridge's 2-foot-wide shoulders.

Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers Catoosa and Walker counties for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California. Stories he's covered include crime in blighted parts of metro Detroit and Reno, Nev.; environmental activists tree-sitting in California's Sierra Nevada foothills; attempts by the Michigan Militia to take over a township¹s government in northern Michigan. A native of Michigan, ...

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