Thursday, June 17, 2004

My city at work

The AJC has a piece this morning saying the Mitchell Street bridge downtown has been re-opened for "lightweight vehicle" traffic.

I used this bridge every afternoon on my trek home until it was abruptly closed back in January because the railroad that runs underneath it had it declared unsafe. The city has put off repairing or replacing it for years.

[editor's note: In lieu of actually repairing the crumbling bridge, the city's solution was to hang big steel nets under the bridge to catch the chunks of falling concrete so they didn't land on the tracks. I'm not making that up.]

So in January the city had to shut it down. And the one good link between Northside Drive and the other side of the railroad was cut off (I used it to get over to I-20 on Spring Street).

And now - nearly six months later - the bridge has been re-opened to "lightweight" traffic. What feat of construction and engineering did the city spend these six months working on to re-open the bridge?

"The city has spent $3,000 to prop up the bridge with a steel support, Public Works spokeswoman Pamela Wilson said. It's a temporary fix."

Yep, a pole. Six months to put up a $3,000 pole and open back up a bridge used by hundreds of people a day.

To demonstrate the safety of this fix, Atlanta's public works chief was the first to drive over the re-opened bridge and told the AJC "I have all the confidence in the world in my engineers."

Why does this remind me of the scene in Jaws when the mayor goads the townfolk back into the water after the first shark attack?

I cannot in good conscience provide a link to the story, as AJC.com won't let you read anything without registering, so here's the whole piece for your amusement:

An aging bridge in downtown Atlanta was reopened Wednesday to lightweight vehicles.

The Mitchell Street bridge, a heavily used route into downtown from the west side, had been closed since January because it was crumbling. Atlanta Public Works Commissioner David Scott was the first to drive over the reopened bridge.

"I have all the confidence in the world in my engineers," Scott said.

The city has spent $3,000 to prop up the bridge with a steel support, Public Works spokeswoman Pamela Wilson said. It's a temporary fix.

The 80-year-old bridge is slated to be demolished and replaced in 2007 at an estimated cost of $16 million.

The bridge, which crosses railroad tracks near the Georgia Dome, has been declared safe by a state Department of Transportation bridge inspector, but only for light vehicles, such as cars, pickup trucks, vans and sport utility vehicles.

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