Farmers and residents say it will reduce response times for emergency crews, and make commuting easier. For the first time in more than 14 months, traffic was allowed to cross the Franks Creek Road bridge over Interstate 75 in Lowndes County.
The bridge was totaled in October of 2002, when a semi hauling a large tractor slammed into the bridge.
"We're all just excited that we can use this bridge, finally after 14 months of it being out of commission. It really cost us this past year, as far as expenses, of having to go all the way around. We had to hire more people, plus the added wear and tear on our equipment, more fuel, more time. Now, we can cut those cost in half," said Timmy Browning, a farmer who uses the bridge.
In addition to causing problems for farmers, citizens and emergency response crews had been concerned, because alternate routes added at least 10 minutes each way, critical time in an emergency.
Drivers say they are just looking forward to using the bridge once again.
"How wonderful it is, and how appreciative we are that its finally finished," said Mabel Scruggs.
At one time, Georgia DOT officials thought the $1.4 million project would not be completed until fall of 2004, but pressure by local and state leaders led to quicker finish. The new bridge was also designed to accommodate current and future expansions on I-75, which run under the road.