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State to accept bids to replace Hartselle’s 1-lane wood bridge

By Deangelo McDaniel · 340-2469

HARTSELLE — If you think you have driven over the worst bridge in Morgan County, reconsider, unless you’ve been over the Hammitt Street bridge.

The 75-year-old, one-lane bridge is supported by wooden columns and has a 3-ton limit. City leaders here hope to change that. Next month, the state will accept bids to replace the bridge.

“Our plan is to start construction next year,” Mayor Dwight Tankersley said.

The bridge is the only elevated east-west crossing north of Thompson Road in Hartselle. Because of the bridge’s weight limit, firetrucks cannot cross if a train is blocking downtown routes.

“It’s a bad situation,” Tankersley said. “That’s why we have pushed so hard to get the bridge replaced.”

Hartselle leaders have known for years the bridge was structurally unsound.

In 2002, two guardrails fell on the train tracks, forcing repairs.

Safety is one of the reasons city leaders mounted a successful Montgomery campaign in January when the state Department of Transportation tried to delay the start of the project until 2009.

With the help of Sen. Arthur Orr, R-Decatur, and Rep. Ronald Grantland, D-Hartselle, the city got the project’s start date moved to 2008.

Engineering plans call for a two-lane bridge with knockout sides. This means the bridge can be expanded to more lanes.

The bridge replacement is Phase 1 of a four-phase North Hartselle bypass with an estimated cost of $15 million to $20 million.

The state, which had the bridge on its “fast-track” list in 2003 because of safety issues, is providing up to $1.5 million to fund the project, which involves giving motorists a route from U.S. 31 to Georgia Street and Bethel Road.

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