New Hardin Bridge provides safer, more modern structure for motorists
by Marie Nesmith
Aug 14, 2011 | 4345 views | 0 0 comments | 20 20 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Deborah Reynolds and her mother, Geraldine Tidwell, stand on the new Hardin Bridge where the old bridge, right, is still visible. They live on opposite sides of the bridge and during construction their five-minute commute extended to about 20 minutes.
SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Deborah Reynolds and her mother, Geraldine Tidwell, stand on the new Hardin Bridge where the old bridge, right, is still visible. They live on opposite sides of the bridge and during construction their five-minute commute extended to about 20 minutes. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
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Since opening in late spring, Hardin Bridge has simplified the lives of its surrounding residents, who had to alter their routes since the old bridge was closed in 2007. For Deborah Reynolds, Hardin Bridge Road's pathway over the Etowah River connects her relatives, with her mother and brother's family living on one side and her residing on the other.

"I had lived away for about five years and I moved back to my home in Cartersville, which is only a couple of miles from my mom," Reynolds said. "My mom actually lives on Hardin Bridge Road just a couple of miles on one side of the bridge toward Euharlee and I live right off Sugar Valley Road on the other side. So, one of the things that I most enjoyed was getting up early in the morning and just running down to mom's real quick and having coffee with her. And when the bridge was open, I could be at her house in like five minutes.

"So, during the time when the bridge was closed, it made it more inconvenient to drive all the way around and through, down Euharlee Road to get to her house. ... [When the new bridge opened] it was so much nicer. I was like, 'Oh yeah, I can be at mom's [a lot quicker now].' It just made me feel closer. I just felt like I was around the corner from her once the bridge opened back up."

Considered "historic," the old bridge was built in 1930 by Austin Brothers Bridge Co. and rehabilitated in 1950. A few years ago it was determined 2,140 motorists traveled the single lane, three-span truss bridge daily, and Bartow County Road Department Director Randy Gray said he expects that number to be about the same today for the new structure.

"It's a road that connects other roads -- 411 to Euharlee Road and Peeples Valley Road to Euharlee Road -- so a number of people were having to take a pretty good roundabout way to wherever they may be traveling to [and] the school buses could not traverse it anymore, so they had to go around as well," said Bartow County Administrator Steve Bradley. "So it was a problem when it had to be closed, and it took a good long while before the project was completed and they opened it to traffic. But now that it's open, I'm sure that people who use that route are pleased to see it reopened."

In its current condition, the old bridge -- closed after an inspection from the Georgia Department of Transportation -- has been deemed unsafe for pedestrians and motorists.

"The piers underneath the bridge [were] actually deteriorating and they wouldn't support the traffic loads anymore," Gray said. "It was too dangerous to put a car on it or anything. We were worried it would collapse."

As a replacement to the old bridge, the more modern concrete span bridge is located about 300 feet east of the other structure.

"[This has been] a bridge replacement project," Bradley said. "[The new structure is] wider. The old bridge was a wooden/metal structure with the piers. It was of a design from years ago when there was less traffic and smaller vehicles. Now the new one will accommodate larger vehicles.

"It's a more modern design -- wider, safer. ... [For this project, Bartow County provided] $400,000 toward the construction, but in addition to that we were required to get the right of way and move the utilities," he said, adding the county's $400,000 contribution was 20 percent of the GDOT's total construction cost.

While the county is preserving the bridge, its future use is uncertain. One possibility would be to incorporate it into a pedestrian trail system.

"We are preserving the historic bridge. We didn't tear it down," Bradley said. "Anytime you have a historic bridge, there's always that request that it be preserved. Now when I say preserved, I [mean] that we did not tear it down.

"We're not allowing people to use it, but ... sometimes these things turn into be pedestrian bridges that connect trails and things over time. So we didn't tear it down and at some future time it may be developed as part of a pedestrian trail or a bike trail. But that's for the future. We don't have any specific plans at this time to use it, but we didn't destroy [the bridge]."