Last week Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed raised eyebrows, and possibly a few heart rates, when he said that four city bridges are so badly in need of repairs that they’re nearing collapse.
Speaking to WXIA’s Doug Richards on Nov. 25, Reed said: “We have four bridges that, by any serious engineer, are rated at or near the point of collapse, that are connected to central arteries in our city.”
The mayor continued, according to the WXIA report, to say that those bridges are among the top projects the city would tackle if voters approve an infrastructure bond in March worth up to $250 million. Those funds would help chip away at a nearly billion-dollar backlog in needed road, street and bridge repairs across the city.
Asked about the mayor’s statements this week, Reed spokeswoman Anne Torres said the mayor was “speaking figuratively” when he said the bridges are near collapse.
“The mayor’s comments shouldn’t be interpreted literally. He’s speaking figuratively,” she said. “The point he is trying to make here is that there are a number of bridges that are beyond their life cycle… the point we are trying to make is how serious the need is.”
Torres said the Department of Public Works inspects city bridges and that “if there was a bridge on the verge of collapse, it would not be open to vehicular or pedestrian use, period.”
Reed was referring to several bridges currently listed on the city’s infrastructure bond webpage, she said, including bridges located on Childress Drive, Courtland Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Powers Ferry Road. Those bridges, many roughly 100 years old, are estimated to collectively need more than $20 million in repairs, according to the city’s website.
The Nelson Street bridge is currently closed, Torres said.