Mount Tabor Road reopens

COVINGTON -- Mount Tabor Road has reopened after two months.

A portion of the road was closed in late September due to flooding that damaged Mount Tabor Road bridge.

The DOT gave conflicting reports to the county about the bridge, first saying it was not safe to open and then contradicting that one week later. But the county's transportation consultant, Hatch Mott McDonald, has inspected the bridge and said it is safe for passenger traffic, county Engineer Kevin Walter said.

Vehicles weighing 8 tons or more, including school buses and fire trucks, are prohibited from crossing the bridge. EMS vehicles weigh about 8 tons, and whether they can safely cross is being investigated, Walter said.

Signs have been posted at the bridge to warn drivers of vehicles weighing more than 8 tons to stay off, and the Newton County Sheriff's Office will be regularly patrolling the area to keep an eye on the bridge, he said.

There is structural damage to the bridge from erosion, but it should be safe until repairs can be made, Walter said.

Hatch Mott McDonald is expected to complete the design for the bridge in 45 days, and the contract will be bid out after Christmas.

"As soon as the winter weather breaks, we'll start construction. It should only take 90 days to fix," he said.

The repairs could cost up to $250,000, Walter said. The county is seeking funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to cover the cost of repairs.

In related news, recent inspections of the bridges on Brown Bridge and Rocky Plains roads indicated they are not damaged enough to warrant repairs.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is expected to reinspect the bridges in nine months.