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Mt. Tabor bridge opens

The celebration of the opening of Mt. Tabor Bridge was marked by, left to right, Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien, Commissioners John Douglas and Nancy Schulz, Chairman Keith Ellis, Commissioner J.C. Henderson, County Manager John Middleton, Sheriff Ezell Brown, Michael Barr, director of support services for Newton County School System and Robert Moon with the Georgia Department of Transportation. (Special Photo)

The celebration of the opening of Mt. Tabor Bridge was marked by, left to right, Fire Chief Kevin O’Brien, Commissioners John Douglas and Nancy Schulz, Chairman Keith Ellis, Commissioner J.C. Henderson, County Manager John Middleton, Sheriff Ezell Brown, Michael Barr, director of support services for Newton County School System and Robert Moon with the Georgia Department of Transportation. (Special Photo)

COVINGTON — Mt. Tabor Bridge is now safe to travel for school buses, fire trucks and other large vehicles.

The bridge over the Yellow River was closed to vehicles over 8 tons after the flood of 2009. It was closed to all traffic for construction in February and was reopened by county officials on Aug. 29.

“We had a ceremonial closing to that event by riding across the bridge and proving it to be worthy,” Ellis said. Vehicles driving over the bridge included a school bus, fire truck and sheriff’s vehicle.

The bridge was damaged during the flood and also had wear and tear on the piers from continual exposure to water and from traffic, said Newton County Chairman Keith Ellis.

The bridge had been downgraded to a load capacity of 8 tons, resulting in school buses and fire trucks having to be rerouted since 2009.

Eight bus routes will now utilize the bridge, said Michael Barr, director of support services for the Netwon County School System. Buses on these routes will cross the bridge 15 times per day, he said. The buses that use the bridge transport students that attend Fairview Elementary, Newton High and Cousins Middle schools.

Ellis said the piers and a majority of the bridge were reconstructed.

The bridge load capacity is now unposted, but the design for repairs was approved by the Georgia Department of Transportation, said Transportation Director Tom Garrett. The bridge will be put back in the DOT's rotation schedule for inspections, he said.

The bridge opened 21 days ahead of schedule. Repairs were funded by SPLOST revenues and the DOT. SPLOST revenues funded $682,000 and the DOT paid $105,000.

Hatch Mott MacDonald of Atlanta did the design, Moreland Altobelli Associates of Norcross handled the inspection and McCarthy Improvement of Atlanta did the construction.

The bridge opening was dedicated to Robert Griffith, superintendent of the Newton County Public Works Department and a 20-year-employee. Griffith is currently out of work due to health issues.