Road Problems

Dried dirt and a mangled truck, reminders of last Wednesday night's accident involving Mark Brantley's 19-year-old son, Joshua.

"He hit a pile of dirt and the truck ramped and hit a pine tree and it broke his back in three placed and totaled his truck out."

Now temporarily confined to the bed and unable to go to school, Brantley says his son has lost his grant for college. Brantley says perhaps this could have been prevented if "BRIDGE OUT" signs or flashers would have been posted on roads connecting to Gum Log road where the bridge has been out for almost a month.

"There are four access roads between the two "BRIDGE OUT" signs on Gum Log Road. People from those access roads can come on to this road and there's no way for them to know that the bridge is out before it's too late," says Brantley.

So what caused the bridge to collapse in the first place? County officials say the water from last April's two major floods, plus last month's floods accelerated the problem. They say it was the flooding that cased the creek underneath the bridge on Gum Log Road to almost double in width. Not only that, but they say that the flooding washed away the dirt which was covering the bridge's foundation, therefore causing it to sink almost six feet.

While the county has declared the downed bridge as an emergency case, officials say in terms of repair they have had no choice but to ask the state for assistance.

"First off, it's a pretty large drainage structure," says county state aid engineer Terrell Temple. "You've got almost 3,800 acres of drainage flowing beneath this and secondly the county doesn't have the financial resources at the present time."

If all goes well Temple says the county will start taking bids on the bridge within the next six weeks. As for a completion date, that's still unknown.

Meanwhile, Brantley says his concern for now is placing very visible caution signs on all roads, which connect to Gum Log Road.

"In fact, I'll help take up some money for this if they'll put some signs on these four roads. I'll help, so someone else doesn't get hurt!"