Crews dismantled an historic bridge in the Rabbittown community on Tuesday and expect to replace it with a modern one within nine months.
Calhoun County Commission officials said the bridge over Choccolocco Creek on Brown Bridge Road is closed, but that motorists can still use minor detours to make the crossing. Meanwhile, the historic bridge will gain a second life when parts of it are repurposed on the Chief Ladiga Trail in Jacksonville in the coming months.
Brian Rosenbalm, county engineer, said construction crews have about nine months to complete the approximately $1.5 million project to build a new bridge. The commission in 2014 approved Brown Bridge’s replacement, a project that will be covered 80 percent by the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program. The commission will spend $300,000 to cover the remainder of the cost.
“Construction is underway now and going along as planned,” Rosenbalm said.
Commission Chairman Lee Patterson said the new 79-foot bridge will be wider and have modern steel supports.
“It’ll be a lot stronger ... in my lifetime, we’ll never have to pay attention to it again,” Patterson said.
Rosenbalm said there are signs and barricades to prevent residents from using what remains of the 70-year-old bridge.
Motorists won’t need to travel far to still cross the creek, just a mile or so on either side.
Brown Bridge Road makes a loop from Rabbittown Road to Red Road 55.
“The detour routes are marked,” Rosenbalm said.
Patterson said the metal trusses of the old bridge would be taken to a park on the Chief Ladiga Trail in Jacksonville during the coming week. The bridge parts will later be installed on the trail near its intersection with Alexandria-Jacksonville Highway.
“We still need a lot of prep work before we can install the parts ... we’d like to have a ribbon-cutting there around Easter or early summer,” Patterson said.
The Chief Ladiga is a 33-mile paved trail that extends from the Georgia state line, through Piedmont, Jacksonville and Weaver and into Anniston.
The commission in April voted to spend $91,965 to build the park where the old bridge will be placed.
“It’ll be the nicest part of the trail when it’s done,” Patterson said of the park.