Cobb’s covered bridge: The hits keep coming

The bridge has a seven-foot clearance and the metal bar that protects it gets hit multiple times per year, either by U-Haul trucks or construction equipment. Cobb County averages about a call a month of someone almost hitting the bridge.

Cobb County’s Concord Road covered bridge has a long and treasured history, but now it’s best known for repeated accidents as inattentive drivers keep trying to fit too-tall vehicles under its rafters.

The latest incident in this long-running saga occurred Wednesday when a small bus crashed into a metal beam protecting the one-lane bridge just south of the East-West Connector. Cobb County spokesman Ross Cavitt said a witness sent the county a photo and video of the collision, which occurred around 5 p.m. The impact damaged the steel beam placed in front of the bridge to protect it.

“The driver turned around and left,” Cavitt said, adding the bus is not a county-owned vehicle. Cobb police are trying to track down the owner, he said.

Wednesday's incident was the second one this week, the third for 2019 and the 17th hit the bridge has taken in the last 16 months. The bridge, which has a seven-foot clearance, escaped damage Monday when a U-Haul truck ignored the signs on the wall and crashed into one of the metal beams.

Thursday morning, the road to the bridge was closed yet again as the county worked to repair the beam. The protective beams have taken numerous hits since they were originally installed in 2017 and replaced in 2018.

“In the coming weeks, we hope to have some exciting news about a new method designed to keep over-height vehicles off that section of Concord Road,” the county said Thursday on its Facebook page.

READExplore the history and beauty of Georgia's covered bridges

The Concord Road covered bridge was built in 1872, and is among fewer than 20 covered bridges in Georgia, according to the National Society for the Preservation of Covered Bridges. The bridge is the centerpiece of Cobb’s Concord Covered Bridge Historic District, which features homes and mills dating to the 1800s.

But preserving the beloved bridge hasn't been cheap. The metal beams and signs warning of its seven-foot height were part of an $800,000 taxpayer-funded rehabilitation project in December 2017.

The beam is designed to fall toward the bridge — without hitting it — after a vehicle runs into it. The driver’s insurance company usually get the bill, however. Cavitt said the county spends between $300 and $500 to repair the protective beam each time a driver tests fate and ends up on the losing end.

READHit after hit, is historic Concord Road Covered Bridge worth keeping?

The bridge and its beams experienced a blissfully quiet start to the new year, lasting until Jan. 16 when the driver of a large truck thought there was enough clearance to smoothly pass through. That proved to be a bad calculation, as the truck was stopped in its tracks by the metal beam.

These structures are taking beating while protecting this unique piece of history, said County Commissioner Lisa Cupid, who represents the area where the bridge is housed.

Cupid said the county is hoping to announce some changes within the next month or two that would improve warnings to drivers that certain vehicles will simply not fit into the covered bridge.

“We need to find a better way to make sure there’s adequate notice,” she said.

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