Construction on bridge to begin soon

COVINGTON - Construction on Hightower Trail Bridge over Gum Creek is about to get under way.

Described by the county engineer as "possibly the worst bridge in the county," the bridge was closed by the county in August 2006, shortly after a motorist lost control, struck the guardrails and nearly drove off the bridge.

County Engineer Kevin Walter said the bridge's weight limit of 3 tons is the lowest capacity of any bridge in the county.

Initially, the county intended to upgrade the bridge so that motorists could travel up to 45 mph, but the cost for that project, which would have involved lengthening the bridge to up to four times its current length, would have run $2 million or more, Walter said.

"We worked really hard to come up with a safe design that wouldn't cost $2 million or $3 million. This one will be a 25 mph, two-lane bridge with shoulders and a guardrail," he said.

"The county is very eager to get this built. It's going to be a beautiful, double-arched, concrete bridge with the sides of the bridge cast to look like a stone wall, and it will be dyed to look like the rocks in the stream below," he added.

The county awarded a construction contract in the amount of $937,755 to Cline Service Corporation out of Columbus at Tuesday's Board of Commissioners meeting. Cline was the second-lowest bidder for the project.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.