The Alabama Department of Transportation facilitated replacements for many obsolete and deficient bridges on county and city roads in Alabama. One of the most notable was the replacement of Marshall County’s “Double Bridges” on Scarham Creek, which was an inconvenience and safety concern for motorists.
Martling Road wound across two tributaries of the creek via functionally obsolete one-lane steel girder bridges, on a poor alignment, with the road curving sharply approaching and departing both bridges. This served as the primary route between the Martling community and Asbury schools north of Scarham Creek and the city of Albertville south of the creek. About 1,500 vehicles, including school buses, traversed the bridges daily, typically queuing and waiting to cross, often blind to opposing traffic.
Over the years, crashes involving the bridges caused multiple fatalities and injuries. Those fatalities included a 17-year-old volunteer junior firefighter. While responding to a house fire, the firetruck struck the narrow bridge, crashing into the creek below. County officials sought to replace the bridges but were unable to move forward due to the cost.
In 2012, ALDOT announced the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program (ATRIP). ATRIP allowed the county to obtain the necessary funding, combined with earmarked federal money, to construct the more than $5 million bridge. ATRIP facilitated $1 billion in local projects using GARVEE bonds to be repaid with future federal appropriations.
Following a well-attended bridge opening ceremony in January 2017, community members again lined up in their vehicles approaching Scarham Creek, as they had done daily for decades. This time, though, the usual apprehension that came with crossing the creek was gone. This time, they weren’t craning their necks to look out for opposing traffic. This time, they were eager to be among the first to smoothly and safely cross the new bridge.