Friday, September 06, 2013

TOP STORY >> City limits access to a small bridge

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville has closed a 57-by-27-foot bridge on North J.P. Wright Loop Road to trucks with loads heavier than three tons, according to Public Works Director Jimmy Oakley.

The bridge is between the railroad tracks and the four-way stop sign at the intersection of Graham and Loop roads.

Oakley said a state Highway Department inspector found that the bridge was moving more than it should when vehicles were driving over it.

Crews working on Graham Road and the shooting complex have been using that bridge to get to the construction sites, the director explained.

Oakley said, “It’s been really hammered this past year. All them heavy loads are taking a toll on it…We’ve got to think about the safety.”

The public works department plans to start strengthening the weak columns underneath the bridge next week, he continued.

Oakley said that a new four-lane bridge with sidewalks on both sides is being designed to replace the old one.

The design could be finished by the end of this month, but construction probably won’t start until next summer because winter is a bad time for contractors to start projects, he said. Winter is often too wet for crews to get much done.

As for the price, Oakley said, “Without a full design, it would be hard to say.”

He noted, “We know it’s an old bridge and we need to improve it.”

The long-range plan is to widen Loop Road from Linda Lane to Military Road.

Oakley said it makes more sense to build a wider bridge, when a new bridge is needed there anyway, than to replace the bridge now and four-lane it in 10 years.