Newly Constructed Bridges Improve Access in National Forests

Release Date: Apr 2, 2012  

(Montgomery, Ala.)  April 2, 2012----The USDA Forest Service recognizes that much care is required to provide a safe transportation system throughout the National Forests in Alabama.  There are currently over 1,900 miles of roads within Alabama’s national forests with bridges encompassing a major component of the system.  The Forest Service recently replaced bridges in the Bankhead National Forest in Double Springs, Ala. and the Talladega National Forest, Shoal Creek District in Heflin, Ala.   Thanks to funding by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA), jobs were created to construct and design the Pine Glen Bridge on the Shoal Creek District. The Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trails program supported the construction of Brushy Creek Bridge on the Bankhead District.  Both construction projects will improve habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms, reduce sediment deposits into the streams and river and improve access for visitors.

According to the Forest Engineer Erika Davis, PE, Forest Service natural resource specialists consulted with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to ensure that threatened and endangered species were protected.  The replacement of the Brushy Creek Bridge and the Pine Glen Bridge was needed for quite some time.  The Brushy Creek Bridge, which was constructed in the 1930s, had over 3 ½ inches of concrete slab that had settled and caused breakage at the expansion joints.  During storms, the bridge would become overtopped by large woody debris.  Costly maintenance was necessary just to keep the bridge passable. “The new Brushy Bridge is one of the largest and most complex engineering projects on the Bankhead National Forest,” said Bankhead District Ranger Elrand Denson. “It provides better access and improves the aquatic species environment.  The new bridge will also eliminate safety concerns with storm debris removal,” said Denson.

  Like the Brushy Creek Bridge, the Pine Glen Bridge was prone to woody debris jams after flooding.  In addition, its structure was inadequate in terms of bridge width, load bearing capacity, and radius of curvature on the roadway.  Its original 1940s design could no longer support the increase in traffic volume that developed throughout the years. “We are so glad that the construction project is complete,” said Karen McKenzie, Shoal Creek district ranger. “Folks can get back out to enjoy all the area has to offer from hiking on the Pinhoti Trail, to fishing at Sweetwater Lake, to picnicking under the trees at Pine Glen.”

Jobs were created under general contractors Hermosa Construction and Aldridge Brothers.   “I'm proud to have worked with a great team to study, design and construct the bridges,” said Davis. “There is a lot of coordination that goes into making infrastructure improvements like this happen.”

Last year, the National Forests in Alabama maintained 827 road miles and 55 bridges.  For information, please contact Forest Service Engineer Erika Davis at (334) 834-4470.

Picture on left shows the old Brushy Creek Bridge in the Bankhead National Forest. Picture on right shows the newly replaced Brushy Creek Bridge.

Above pictures reveal the beginning stages of the construction for Pine Glen Bridge. Jobs at this site were created through funding provided by the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.