ANNISTON ARMY DEPOT, Ala. -- In April 2016, all traffic of more than 26 tons was routed through Eulaton Gate, instead of Anniston Army Depot's main gate.

This was due to an evaluation of the bridge's load capacity, which determined the bridge had a weight limit of 13 to 27 tons, depending upon the configuration of the vehicle.

In mid-February, work is scheduled to begin to replace the bridge.

The Army Corps of Engineers is coordinating the project, which will construct a new bridge to Alabama Department of Transportation specifications for heavy traffic approximately 10 feet to the west of the existing bridge.

"There should be very little impact to traffic during the project because the new bridge will be in place before the old bridge is demolished," said Jason Wynn, a civil engineer for the depot.

The first phase of the project involves the movement of existing utilities to clear a route for the new bridge and its connecting road segments.

Because the new structure will be near the old, a traffic shift will take place near the end of construction to enable paving of the new segment of road.

A sidewalk is planned along the bridge, which will connect with the one in place on the south end of the existing structure.

The expected completion date for the bridge is the Summer of 2019.

The current bridge was constructed in 1941, at the time the Anniston Ordnance Depot was being built. It was given to the depot by the state of Alabama in 2010.

The load determination for the bridge came as a result of a bi-annual bridge audit, which recommended all bridges receive posted load limits.

Due to the age of the bridge, little was known of its construction. The depot contracted with a bridge specialist in early 2016 to determine the load limit.

Mike Mathews, the depot's director of Public Works, asked employees to drive slowly and use caution during the construction process.

"Anytime you are driving in the area of the construction, I would ask you to slow down. Make sure you are driving carefully and being very observant of what is going on around you," said Mathews. "There will still be large trucks coming in, carrying equipment for the bridge construction and sometimes there will be workers near the roadway."

This article appeared on page 3 of the Jan. 25, 2018, issue of TRACKS.