Historic B.B. Comer Bridge is set for demolition after county commission fails to take ownership despite community outcry

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JACKSON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) - The Scottsboro community has worked for the last three years to save their historic B.B. Comer Toll Bridge. Citizens joined forces to create the Comer Bridge Foundation in an effort to get the county’s support.  However, a motion to save the bridge died in a commission meeting, along with the community's hope for historical preservation.

The historic landmark was crafted in 1930 and is the last remaining toll bridge in the state of Alabama. There were one 15 throughout the state but the other 14 have long been demolished.  This November, its fate was decided by the Jackson County Commission.

Here’s a statement from Chairman Matthew Hodges.

“While there were great opportunities for the bridge, and we acknowledge it being a piece of history the county. We did not have the means or ability to take on such a large risk with taxpayer dollars.  There were still many unanswered questions regarding the process forward and ultimately had the county participated we would have had to accept some unknown risk. It's the last bridge of its kind in Jackson County, and we'll be sorry to see it go.”

Meaning in the coming months this piece of history will be reduced to scrap and rubble. The Alabama Department of Transportation deemed the bridge structurally deficient, meaning it’s not wide or high enough for today’s traffic.

“I’m disappointed in the county commissioners,” shared Comer Bridge Foundation President, Charles Holderfield. “Not willing to support the citizens of this county.”

Charles Holderfield has spent countless hours working with the community trying to preserve history. The foundation’s goal is to transform their unique piece of beautiful history. They aim to make the bridge a walking/biking trail. The group has had a number of studies done that reflect how the ecotourism hotspot could bring in opportunity to the county.

“Bring your grandchildren out and their children,” said Holderfield. “This bridge can stand by itself with no maintenance for another 80 years. I can’t understand why the county can’t see the profit. I mean, that’s one of the big things is urban tourism.”

According to the Alabama Department of Transportation the bridge must be under a government entity. The bridge foundation pleaded the commission to adopt ownership and allow the foundation to oversee the bridge development, even offering one million dollars to an interest bearing account.

“We were ready to sign a multi- year contract taking full responsibility if the bridge,” added Holderfield.

After 85 years, this toll bridge now has a limited number of days left. Without a government entity seeing the benefit in preservation, the historic landmark will soon be falling down. The foundation is hopeful an investor will see the potential for the development and step forward to help save the historic bridge.

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