June 20, 2019 - Smyrna - June 20, 2019 - Smyrna - Cobb County’s covered bridge gets a second warning device to stop drivers from running into the historic covered bridge on Concord Road. It will join the older warning device seen here, which is made of steel beams to absorb a blow from a too-tall vehicle. Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Cobb covered bridge warning system gets upgrade

The latest warning system installed in the summer to alert drivers to the Concord Road covered bridge’s low clearance got a makeover Thursday.

Cobb County Department of Transportation crews installed rubberized pipes over the chains suspended from traffic mast arms on both sides of the bridge. The county previously encased the chains with PVC pipes when it installed the warning system in June. 

The current system has, so far, been a successful investment for the county. It’s been five months since the metal beams protecting the bridge have been hit by drivers of large vehicles who ignore existing warning signs and try to pass through the one-lane bridge’s seven-foot clearance. 

However, these tall vehicles traveling on Concord Road hit the pipes at high rates of speed, causing them to be damaged and the chains twisted over the mast arms, said Dallas Cain, Cobb County road maintenance division manager.

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“Vehicles are not slowing down, so they are hitting them at 55 and 65 miles per hour,” he said of the pipes. 

Cain said two sections of rubberized pipes, which are built to “get ran over by cars,” will be installed over the length of the chains. This will allow vehicles to hit the lower pipe without affecting the top one.

The last close call the bridge experienced was in June when a work van bonked one of its metal beams — while the county was installing the mast arms for the pipes. 

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The Concord Road covered bridge spans Nickajack Creek just south of the East-West Connector. It has had about two dozen close calls since December 2017 when the county installed protective metal beams at both ends of the bridge as part of an $800,000 taxpayer-funded rehabilitation. The beams are designed to absorb the blow from vehicles, protecting the bridge.

The covered bridge is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a centerpiece of Cobb’s Concord Covered Bridge Historic District, which features homes and mills dating to the 1800s. 

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