By Amy Wenk
The first two cars Sandy Springs Director of Public Works Thomas Black stopped Sept. 21 after closing the Peachtree-Dunwoody bridge that crosses Nancy Creek were parents rushing their children to the emergency room at Scottish Rite Hospital in Sandy Springs.
The bridge failed that day after floodwaters washed out the middle pier of the structure.
The 16,000 vehicles that travel the road daily are now being winded around the unstable crossing along Northland Drive, Highpoint Road and Johnson Ferry Road. The closure has become a big headache for Sandy Springs, Buckhead and Brookhaven residents who enjoyed that residential section of the corridor, which traverses all three communities. Its few traffic lights made it an easier journey from Sandy Springs to Buckhead and Brookhaven (or vice versa) than Roswell Road or Ashford-Dunwoody Road and 50 cents cheaper than Ga. 400.
The bridge failure is “very inconvenient and it will have a severe impact,” Sandy Springs Police Chief Terry Sult said. “Any bridge collapse is a priority, but certainly that’s one that we are going to be looking at very quickly. That has just a high volume of traffic.”
Recognizing the importance of getting the Peachtree-Dunwoody bridge back up and running, Sandy Springs officials are pressing for a temporary fix. At a Sept. 28 meeting, Black said he hopes to open the bridge to traffic in three weeks to a month.
At a cost of about $300,000, the bridge would be shored up in the short term by inserting several beams to secure the existing bridge. That solution Black said could last two or three years.
“It’s something we would have to monitor,” he said. “We will watch it close.”
With the temporary fix in place, Public Works officials would then begin the process of rebuilding the bridge, which Black estimates will cost $2 to $2.5 million and take at least two years to construct.
Money for the project could come from FEMA or DOT, but acquiring those federal funds means a certain process must be followed. An environmental assessment is one procedure involved and takes several months or longer.
No matter, it seems a long winding road for the Peachtree-Dunwoody bridge.
“We have to do what we have to do,” said Sandy Springs Dist. 5 Councilmember Tibby DeJulio, who lives along the detour route for the bridge. “This is a disaster of national proportion. We have to work together, cooperate with each other and hopefully we will all come out of it better people.”