Engineers say Patterson Bridge Road flooding was 'blessing in disguise'

Patterson Bridge Road (WRDW-TV)

Patterson Bridge Road (WRDW-TV)

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Tuesday, February 12, 2013

HEPHZIBAH, Ga. (WRDW) -- Water flooded over the Patterson Bridge Road bridge, making it impassable, but once crews started working to fix the bridge, they realized the bigger problem was underneath it.

"It's kind of a blessing in disguise," said Director of Engineering Abie Ladson.

Not words you'd expect after construction shut down the bridge and the only paved access to hundreds of houses along Patterson Bridge Road.

"It was just plain terrible really," neighbor Chuck Arthur said.

But Ladson says it's not as terrible as it could have been.

"In the process of fixing the problem, they discovered there was a big void under the road between the pipes," he said.

The scary part came when he answered News 12's next question.

"What could have happened to cars if you hadn't found this problem?" we asked.

"It could be bad because while you're going across, it could actually collapse," Ladson said.

In fact, that's exactly what happened to crews as they were trying to fix the bridge yesterday.

"When we moved around, the tractor actually collapsed," Ladson said.

So, workers stacked various sizes of rocks in the gaps to keep the bridge from collapsing or washing out again.

That's just a temporary solution so they could get the road back open.

On Monday, you would be underwater if you tried to stand by the bridge, but on Tuesday, the bridge was clear and the water was down.

Out of three culvert pipes running underneath the bridge, only one is clear.

"There are beaver dams built up underneath there in the two larger culverts, and so that's probably why you had a rise in water level there," Ladson explained.

Ladson says, thanks to the bridge flooding, they are now working on a plan for a permanent fix. He says they'll probably replace the whole bridge.

So there is more work to come, but next time he promises people they'll have a way out.

"We'll come up with some kind of traffic control where it's passable for vehicles," Ladson said.

Ladson says he hopes to start the project to fix the bridge permanently in the next month or two.

He says they'll probably put a temporary round-a-bout bridge to one side so drivers can get in and out while they fix it.

Once they start construction on the bridge, he says it should only take a week to replace it.

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