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September 3, 2013

City of Cullman gets $3 million to replace deficient bridges

CULLMAN — The City of Cullman has received approximately $3 million in grant funds to replace two dangerously deficient bridges within the city.

Both the Eva Road and Convent Road bridges were ranked as deficient by state standards, so city officials recently applied for 80/20 state matching grants through the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (A-TRIP) to repair them. The mayor’s office received word several days ago that the grants were approved.

“Both of those, and the bridge on Eva Road especially, benefit the entire county, including anyone coming in to the schools or going to the hospital,” Mayor Max Townson said. “It’s essential to all of us, and we feel like those are really good projects.”

The city received approximately $1.39 million for the more-than 60-year-old Convent Road bridge near Larkwood, and approximately $1.6 million for the Eva Road bridge. The combined local match for both projects will total approximately $750,000, which officials say will be split over the next two fiscal years. Those funds will cover design costs and other associated expenses.

The Convent Road bridge, sometimes called the “Waterfall Bridge,” was rated a 12.5 out of 100 on the state’s bridge safety scale. A bridge can be closed until repairs are made at a 10 rating, while anything below a 5 rating is condemned immediately. Recent inspections found the bridge structure shows major structural deficiencies, including large cracks in the foundation.

The Eva Road bridge was rated at 47, though officials say some small cracks in the foundation and the awkward layout of the narrow bridge makes it a priority.

The city council has spent the past several months pursuing grants to replace the two bridges, and Townson thanked local legislators and the Cullman County Commission for their support.

Officials had originally tried to mount a local project to replace the Eva Road bridge almost three years ago, but plans were scrapped in the wake of the April 2011 tornadoes. Now, with grant funds on the table, officials have revisited the proposal with hopes of receiving federal assistance on the project.

* Trent Moore can be reached by e-mail at trentm@cullmantimes.com, or by telephone at 734-2131, ext. 220.

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