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UPDATE: Georgia Bridge Collapse Leaves One Construction Worker Dead, Two Injured

Wed October 20, 2021 - Southeast Edition

A 500-ton crane arrived to recover construction equipment and other debris that also had fallen into the Yellow River.
A 500-ton crane arrived to recover construction equipment and other debris that also had fallen into the Yellow River.
A 500-ton crane arrived to recover construction equipment and other debris that also had fallen into the Yellow River. Workers set up a crane to remove equipment that fell into the Yellow River after the collapse of the Access Road bridge as it was being taken apart by a subcontractor. One person was killed and two seriously injured in the incident. (Newton County Sheriff's Office photo) According to officials, a portion of an access road collapsed on Oct. 19 while crews were dismantling the bridge on an access road off Interstate 20 at Exit 88.

One worker died, and two others were seriously injured late in the afternoon of Oct. 19 when the Access Road bridge in Newton County, Ga., collapsed as they worked to remove part of it for a replacement project.

The fallen bridge ran parallel to Interstate 20 just northwest of Covington.

B&D Concrete Cutting Inc., subcontractors for Georgia Bridge and Concrete in Tucker, Ga., were beginning sawing and demolition activities on the first of four bridge spans on the structure near I-20's Exit 88 when the incident occurred about 5:30 p.m., according to Caitlin Jett, a spokesperson for the county's sheriff's department.

According to the latest reports, federal workplace safety officials are currently investigating the demolition/collapse incident.

The dead man, identified by WSB-TV as 33-year-old Atlanta native Demario Battle, and two others fell into the Yellow River and were submerged, Jett said.

The injured were rescued and received medical attention, although Jett reported to the Covington News that their injuries were considered serious. Each of the crew members involved in the accident were employed by B&D Concrete Cutting, based in Atlanta.

Jett said that a 500-ton crane arrived before midnight to recover construction equipment and other debris that also had fallen into the Yellow River.

The right lane on I-20 eastbound from Exit 88 had reopened a few hours after the collapse after being closed in response to the incident. Through traffic on Access Road was already being detoured onto I-20 and other routes during construction, GDOT announced in a news release.

Georgia Bridge and Concrete is building the $3.065 million project and, through a Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) spokesperson, was planning a 270-day, or nine-month, closure to complete the new bridge.

The bridge reconstruction work began approximately 550 ft. west of the existing bridge and extends east for about a quarter of a mile. After four years of planning, the 320-ft.-long by 43-ft.-wide bridge is to include two walls along the approaches south of the road to minimize impacts to a river pump station and nearby mobile home community.

According to the Covington News, Access Road is a major east-west route between downtown Covington and western Newton County and Conyers, carrying more than 9,000 vehicles per day.

The existing bridge, built in 1937, was classified as "structurally deficient" and must be replaced, according to the GDOT release.

A bridge is classified as "structurally deficient" if either the deck, superstructure, substructure or culvert are rated as being in poor or worse condition, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA).

WSB-TV reported that the project's objective was to replace the bridge and make other improvements in the area due to a high number of reported car crashes. The prime contractor had just closed the bridge the day before the collapse for the replacement project.

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