Neighbors frustrated after washed-out bridge sends them down dangerous road

By: Hope Jensen Email
By: Hope Jensen Email
Neighbors say they are fed up with the condition of Patterson Bridge Road. (WRDW-TV)

Neighbors say they are fed up with the condition of Patterson Bridge Road. (WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 11 o'clock / Monday, Feb. 11, 2013

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW) -- Monday's rain flooded some neighbors with worries that they'll be stranded yet again. The only paved access to hundreds of homes is Patterson Bridge Road, but on Friday, the main bridge washed out.

It later reopened on Monday, but it's just a temporary fix and the frustration seems to be permanent. Neighbors say the detour they had to use was dangerous and that they think it's just a matter of time before they have to deal with this muddy mess again.

"You can just tell since I've been out here for two years it's needed repairs," said Stephanie Richardson, who lives off Patterson Bridge Road.

On Friday afternoon, the main bridge -- and the only paved access to her home and the homes of many others -- was washed out by the rain.

"In my opinion, they never should have let the bridge get this bad in the first place," Richardson said.

In order to get the bridge back open on Monday, they filled it with rocks, dirt and gravel. They say this is just a temporary fix, but they're hoping to have a permanent one within the next two months.

Over the weekend, Richardson and hundreds of others were left with only a dirt road to travel on after the rain.

"We haven't had mail run since Thursday afternoon. The buses were 30 to 45 minutes late -- if somebody was to get hurt or have a heart attack or anything, EMS, service firetrucks, anything, they would be detoured at least 15 to 20 minutes. It's just not safe," Richardson explained.

"I actually didn't take my daughter to school this morning on time because I knew the road was gonna be impassable," said Megan Waters, who lives nearby.

"It's about 15 miles out of my way, but the worst part is it's about 2 and a half miles of dirt road, which is red Georgia clay, which is now very wet and slippery and potholes galore," said neighbor Jim Allen.

The city says that was its only option.

"Nine times out of 10, you have several options where you can actually do a detour. In this case, we only had one other option and that was the dirt road," said Abie Ladson, director of Engineering for Augusta-Richmond County.

The people who live there say that's a problem.

"The city needs to figure out another option for us," Richardson said. "There's a lot of people that live out here and this just wasn't fair."

"Given that that's the only route, it's kinda opened our eyes up now. OK, maybe there's something that we need to look at as far as that being the only access, so when that happens, of course, you're gonna look at that," Ladson said.

The bridge washed out on Friday. While they were trying to fix that, they found a void underneath the bridge that then collapsed so they had to close is down.

The people who live there say they were frustrated that they didn't see any crews out there all weekend. The city says they were drawing up the plans for the temporary bridge but not seeing any visible work done was frustrating for those people who felt stranded.


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