Oconee Hills Cemetery Bridge

Athens, GA

Problem

The Oconee Hills Cemetery Bridge was constructed by the George E. King Bridge Company of Des Moines, IA in 1899. As a part of the Athens-Clarke County Greenway Trail which passes through a part of the cemetery, the historic bridge is used by thousands every month. When football season arrives in the fall, the foot traffic on the bridge swells. During the expansion of the Athens-Clarke County Greenway, the bridge was closed which provided the trustees of the cemetery the opportunity to repave the surface of the bridge. When holes were discovered in the deck of the bridge, an effort was made by the Trustees and the Friends of Oconee Hill Cemetery to raise money to restore the bridge. But when the old paving was removed, larger structural problems were uncovered which required attention.

Solution

Suncoast, with its comprehensive experience working on historic bridges, was contracted to restore the bridge so it could be made safe for the citizens of the greater Athens-Clark County region. Suncoast discovered that the deck pan beneath the asphalt had significant section loss due to water infiltration which also damaged the I-beams. After employing an engineer to review the extent of the deterioration, an evaluation was made to replace the damaged steel I-beams. To allow access to the underside of the bridge, Suncoast employed a unique hanging stage that provided safe access and double as a debris containment which prevented pollution in the North Oconee River.

Results

Suncoast successfully restored the bridge on time with zero safety incidents and without any pollution in the river. In celebration of the reopening of the 1899 iron truss bridge, the Trustees and the Friends of Oconee Hill Cemetery invited the community to the inaugural “Dinner on the Bridge” which serves as a fundraiser for the maintenance of the bridge and the greater cemetery.

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