News 12 at 6 o'clock, February 14, 2008
AUGUSTA, Ga./NORTH AUGUSTA, S.C.---The Fifth Street Bridge, which connects Augusta with North Augusta, could possibly be closed to cars because of its inspection ratings.
The bridge leads straight to Allen Ralston's store, Mr. Pawn.
"I don't do much advertising. Just hearsay or people coming by to see my signs on buildings," he said.
He says he relies on people coming over the bridge to see his business.
"If they close down the bridge, I may as well just pack up and go to another town," he said.
Right now, the bridge is an easy way to connect you from downtown to Highway One. But you may have to find a different route, mainly because of the bridge's inspection ratings.
Georgia's 2006 inspection of the bridge labels it in "poor condition," saying there is corrosion and some loss of the steel structure.
Augusta-Richmond County says it's safe to drive on for now, but that could change.
"The bridge is an old bridge and of course if you don't maintain it, then it can get to that point where you have to close it. There's no option," said Abie Ladson, the Engineering Director for Augusta-Richmond County.
Ladson says a lot of maintenance needs to be done, but there just isn't the money for it.
He says it's more than likely the bridge will be closed to cars but it may be left open as a foot-bridge.
"Probably 70% of my business comes from over the bridge, and they're not walking, they're driving," said Ralston.
One of his customers says it's convenient for her to use the bridge.
"Gordon Highway would be a whole lot busier, maybe more wrecks and traffic congestion," said Cassandra McKenzie.
As for this business owner, he's trying to have faith things will work out.
"I asked the good Lord for a good building and this is where he put me," he said. "So hopefully he'll see me through the rest of it."