New Turtle Creek bridge is open to traffic after years of red tape

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When Switzerland County Commissioner K.C. Banta took office for the first time in January of 1999, the county was in the process of acquiring federal funding to help with the replacement of the bridge that spans Turtle Creek just east of Florence.

“They were doing the aquatic studies when I came on board,” the commissioner said on Tuesday as he looked over the new bridge – eight years in the making. “We applied for federal funds, and they paid 80-percent of the cost of the bridge while the county paid the other 20-percent, but it’s sure been a long process.”

That process finished officially on Tuesday, as the ribbon was cut that opened the new bridge and the road to the public. Turtle Creek Road and Little Hominy Ridge Road are frequently traveled by motorists connecting the upper and lower portions of the county, and travelers have had to use the detour along Florence Hill Road for about a year.

The total cost of the project was $974,135.69, according to the bid records at the Switzerland County Auditor’s office.

Lynn McAlister of McAlister Excavating, the county firm that got the bid to build the bridge, said that his company closed the road on August 29th, 2006, and then began the process of getting ready to demolish the old bridge before building the new one.

The company was awarded the bid to build the bridge in June of last year, but did not receive the required “notice to proceed” until mid-August.

Once the notice was in hand, the company waited approximately 3 1/2 weeks while utilities in the area of the bridge were relocated, and as fall and winter set in, the company was at the mercy of the weather and the conditions surrounding the project.

All of that is now a memory as the beautiful new bridge spans the creek and provides a safe crossing for motorists.

“We had some trouble with the engineering and other setbacks, but we got along great with all of the neighbors here,” K.C. Banta said. “It was also great to see McAlisters get the work. It’s a beautiful piece of work.”