Humphrey’s Ford Bridge Project update
After winning the race against time to meet the Feb. 15 deadline to secure funding for the Humphrey’s Ford Bridge Project, Fulton County has been in a holding pattern since.
According to Milan Novak, roads and bridge improvement coordinator for Fulton County, the paperwork was submitted on time and the county was able to secure the $3.8 million in funding to construct a new and safer bridge.
The Humphrey’s Ford Bridge, is more then 100-years-old and due to time, wear and tear and an increase in the number of floods, has started to crumble in places.
Initially, the state was going to taking bids for the project in April, however; in March, it was discovered there was a hiccup with the paperwork.
“We got all of the signatures we needed from property owners for the easements, but the state discovered they had received a temporary easement on one piece, which should have been a permanent easement,” Novak said. “This has delayed the process because nothing moves quickly in a situation like this.”
Presently, the state is in communication with JLL, the broker for the railroad who will grant the permanent easement.
“We have been sending a lot of paperwork back and forth, but locally, our hands are kind of tied right now. I asked if there was anything we could do to help with this process, but I was told we can’t help in this situation,” Novak said. “They sent the railway the plans and the revised construction plans with the revised easement. We’re being told now the project will go out for bid in July now.”
Although the news may be frustrating for those who frequently use the bridge to travel to and from their homes, some business owners who rely on uninterrupted use of the river during tourist season have commented it is a relief the construction will not interrupt the flow of business, so to speak.
“It would be nice to have the bridge and we’ve needed it for years, but during the canoe season, there are a lot of people who float from above that bridge or from that bridge. With the delay, we hate it, but at the same time, we have people who like to do the five mile float trip and it is from that bridge on down. We want to make sure we will still have access to get in there and hope we will still be able to when construction does start,” said Rocky McCollum, owner of Spring River Canoe. “There are a lot of people who love to look at that bridge and we don’t want to have to drive all the way around Cherokee Village to put in; that would be great. Hearing about the delay is a relief because the last couple years, with the weather and other factors, the recreational float trips are something we depend on for income, and that has been effected.”
The plans have not stated whether or not the Humphrey’s Ford Bridge will remain in use during construction, if motorists will have to find an alternative route or if there will be limited use of the bridge. However, much like any construction project, delays are to be expected once construction begins.