County needs new bridges

Published 10:46 pm Monday, October 27, 2008

Chilton County is full of unsafe bridges, and something needs to be done about them. In an updated list from the County Road Department obtained by The Clanton Advertiser, at least 31 bridges in Chilton County have weight limits of 8 tons or less.

Eight tons seems like a lot of weight, but it really isn’t. That weight limit means that large vehicles, such as school buses, fire trucks and construction equipment, cannot cross these bridges.

Yet some of those bridges are even worse than that. Twenty-two of these 31 bridges are rated at a 3-ton limit.

That isn’t safe for anyone, especially for those kids who have to ride a school bus across it. To give you some perspective of just how bad these bridges are, a typical school bus weighs about 12 tons.

Even the best of these 31 bridges can’t support the weight of a school bus. That means any bus crossing any of these bridges could cause the bridge to collapse.

You might say, “Well, why doesn’t a bus or emergency vehicle take another route?” The problem is that there might not be another way to that person’s house. One person even drives 14 miles out of the way because he couldn’t take his tractor over a bridge. If an ambulance had to do that, the paramedics might not get a seriously injured patient to the hospital in time.

Those reasons are why county engineer Tony Wearren and the road department have shifted their focus from paving and resurfacing to bridge replacement. We believe this is the right idea. As our county grows, we must have a good infrastructure, and bridges are a very important part of the infrastructure.

What good would it do if we had the best-paved road in the world, but it ended with a “Bridge Out” sign?