Work to replace Brown Avenue bridge finally set

For years Columbus' Brown Avenue bridge has been as much an impediment to traffic as an asset.

In such disrepair that its load limit was cut to 3 tons, it was unsafe for buses, heavy trucks and big emergency vehicles that had to circumvent the decaying structure looming over a Norfolk-Southern railroad cut.

So it was welcome news Friday when the Georgia Department of Transportation announced work to replace the bridge finally will begin. It was among 14 projects worth $43 million the department announced Friday.

Once the work begins, the bridge will have to be closed, and all vehicles, regardless of weight, will have to go around it, just like the big trucks do now.

The bridge between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Cusseta Road is in two spans, one over the railroad and another over Bragg Smith Street.

Both were first built in 1940, and the railroad span rebuilt in 1948.

The bridge has been on a priority list for replacement since 2008, at least. The state and Columbus Council dropped its weight limit from 10 tons to 3 in 2009.

"Designing and replacing a bridge over a railroad is just not something that can be done quickly," said Deputy City Manager David Arrington, who expects the work to start next year.

"My thought is it will probably be some time in January. It will be after the first of the year, I'm almost sure."

Beyond its weight capacity, the bridge has posed pedestrian hazards, he said:

"The sidewalk was really disjointed. There were places in there that were broken up. The guard rail was in disrepair. There were a lot of problems."

The price of replacing the bridge has been estimated at $10 million.