More than 2,400 bridges stretch across west and central Georgia. The vast majority are structurally sound, but the Georgia Department of Transportation calls two of them in Bibb and Houston County "deficient."
“They do kind of make you a little nervous,” says Justin Kimbrough.
Kimbrough had no idea the Bibb County bridge he drives a tow truck across every day is one the state calls "structurally deficient,” meaning there are cracks, erosion, and safety concerns for drivers.
“For that much traffic? For all of Warner Robins and Macon to cross that bridge every day?” says Kimbrough.
The Georgia Department of Transportation says the Rocky Creek bridge at Highway 41 and Route 49 has a sufficiency rating of 41.4 out of 100.
“That's a lot of weight we put on that bridge every day. I put on that bridge every day, and I have a wife and two kids and paycheck just to get across the bridge. [It isn’t] going to matter if I don’t make it home,” says Kimbrough.
Kimberly Larson calls the bridges condition critical with more than 34,000 vehicles crossing the bridge daily.
“We go up under the bridge and actually check for any cracking or rust erosion around the beams that support the roadway,” says Larson.
Larson says bridges get a sufficiency rating when they are inspected every two years. She says a number of factors go into it like age, cracks, and erosion, but she says a low score alone does not necessarily mean it is deficient. She says the number of vehicles crossing the bridge also plays a large part.
That is why down the road from Rocky Creek the bridge that goes over Sandy Run Creek in Houston County is about equal in deficiency, even though it scored even lower with a 30.9.
About 8,000 fewer vehicles cross it daily.
“That's why in the next years, we should be seeing a project to replace all 8 of these 4 northbound and 4 southbound,” says Larson.
Larson says DOT plans to replace both bridges in the summer of 2018, but in the meantime, she says they will not let people drive on them if they become unsafe.
“Of course, we monitor them and when the scores get lower. We may put post a weight limit signs,” says Larson.
Astair Holmes is not taking chances.
He says he may switch up his fishing routine by Sandy Run Creek.
“I'll start staying from up under it if I’m going to fish,” says Holmes.
Kimbrough says he will keep an eye out for any signs that Rocky Creek bridge is getting worse.
“It's part of my job, so I have to go no alternate route for me,” says Kimbrough.
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