Lauderdale County bridge passes inspection; weight limit to be enforced

LAUDERDALE COUNTY, Ala. – One of Lauderdale County’s oldest bridges got the green light to remain open after a recent inspection.

There’s always a steady stream of vehicles crossing the Happy Hollow bridge on County Road 47. It’s a main artery from north-central Lauderdale County into Florence. The bridge is also 90-years old.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to extend the life of this bridge; to get as much use out of it as we possibly can,” said Lauderdale County Engineer Eric Hill.

The recent inspection didn’t show any signs of stress on the bridge. But according to Hill, the steel truss span is an old design and considered fracture critical.

“There are certain pieces of that bridge that if they every show signs of deterioration that it would be critical that the bridge would not be functional anymore.”

To limit the stress on the bridge, a weight limit of 18-tons has been put in place. Hill says an empty 18-wheeler weighs in at 15-tons and they have been getting word that fully loaded semis have been crossing there. Something Hill is trying to put a stop to. “We have tried and continue to try to do better notification and signage way back up towards Greenhill so that overweight vehicles can know well in advance that this is upcoming.”

With nothing more than signs to stop them, Hill is asking law enforcement to step up patrols in order to keep tractor-trailer trucks off the bridge.

The results of the most recent inspection were shared with the Alabama Department of Transportation; they too cleared the bridge for passage. It is one of the long term goals of the Lauderdale County Road Department to replace the bridge. No timeline has been set.