The bridge, which connects Savannah to South Carolina, first opened in 1991 and fast became a signature landmark on the coastal city's skyline. But it's also sparked a backlash for its namesake: Eugene Talmadge, a staunch segregationist elected to three terms as governor starting in the 1930s.
Savannah's political leaders urged state legislators last year to ditch the bridge's name. Backed by a small army of Girl Scouts, Republican state Rep. Ron Stephens, who represents a portion of the city, unsuccessfully proposed renaming it for Girl Scouts founder Juliette Gordon Low, a Savannah native.
That may all be a moot point if the bridge is fated to be replaced.
Lynch told legislators the port plans to handle millions more tons of shipments a day by 2028, but won’t be able to do so without a bridge with a higher road deck to allow a new class of jumbo ships to chug by underneath. Another possibility, he added, is by digging a tunnel beneath the riverbed.
Legislative leaders thanked him for the advance warning – and seemed relieved they weren’t asked to pony up any cash for the bridge quite yet.
“We can always go back to a draw bridge if we need to,” said state Rep. Terry England, the head of the House’s budget-writing committee.