The Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT) has begun a new effort to repair and complete the new State Road 41 bridge over the Conecuh River, just south of Brewton. The project had been closed for two years as ALDOT dealt with substandard work, which eventually led to bringing in a new contractor.
Construction of the new span started up again in mid-June and is expected to be completed in Spring 2021. The $5.2 million contract was awarded to Scott Bridge Company Inc., located in Opelika. This cost is part of the original $14 million budget for the new structure, ALDOT said. It is not funded by additional taxpayer dollars.
The new Conecuh River bridge saga started in 2015 when ALDOT hired another contractor to build a replacement bridge over the waterway. Within two years, ALDOT reported that inspections revealed major deficiencies in the concrete work, which caused the bridge to sit idle until the last few weeks.
The project includes replacing portions of the existing bridge deck and applying a polymer overlay. ALDOT and Scott Bridge also will be paving the bridge approaches and placing stripes.
The state agency said the contractor anticipates shifting traffic onto the new bridge by this December.
Once the new bridge is finished, work will begin on all remaining tasks, including the removal of the original SR 41 bridge and relief bridges.
The opening of the new span will be music to the ears of residents of Escambia County, many of whom had grown fearful of using the old, structurally deficient bridge.
Last year, Escambia County Schools Superintendent John Knott said he worried about the hundreds of students who had to travel on buses every day across the old bridge. HIs major concern was when wide school buses, coming from opposite directions, met on the narrow bridge.
ALDOT contends the old bridge is still safe for vehicle traffic. An agency spokesperson told a local television station in 2019 that the bridge "has an acceptable bridge rating" and is routinely monitored.