Roads and bridges are vital links that connect communities to their national forests. For residents living near the Bankhead and Talladega National Forests, their drive to the woods is now safer while also protecting natural resources thanks to recent construction projects for two forest bridges.
The Forest Service replaced the Pine Glen Bridge near Helflin, Ala., on the Talladega National Forest with funding support from the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The Forest Service also supported the construction of the Brushy Creek Bridge near Double Springs, Ala., on the Bankhead National Forest. The projects employed local community workers who built the bridges which are now helping to improve habitat for fish and other aquatic organisms, reducing sediment deposits in the local streams and rivers, and improving access for visitors.
So why are the bridges being replaced? The Brushy Creek Bridge, constructed in the 1930s, had a concrete slab of more than three and one-half inches that had settled and caused breakage at the expansion joints. During storms, the bridge was overtopped by large woody debris. Costly maintenance was necessary to keep the bridge passable.
Like the Brushy Creek Bridge, the Pine Glen Bridge was prone to woody debris jams after flooding. The bridge width, its load-bearing capacity, and the radius of curvature on the roadway was also inadequate. Designed in the 1940s, the bridge could no longer support the increase in traffic volume that developed throughout the years.
The next time that you visit the Talladega or Bankhead National Forests, pay close attention to the new bridges. The wider-framed bridges with a modern look help improve the natural resources and safely aid travelers getting to their destination.