In 2017, local officials in northwest Georgia identified five bridges that could not bear the weight of a school bus. The news was so stunning that citizens of Walker County voted to raise their own taxes to pay for road and bridge maintenance the following year.
But while much of Georgia faces a similar infrastructure crisis, it lacks the same will to fix the problem. Nearly half of Georgia’s state and locally managed bridges are near or past their estimated lifespan. And taxes aren't going up to pay for it.
“For every bridge that we replace there are several more that have reached their design life of 50 years,” Georgia Department Of Transportation (GDOT) Chief Engineer Meg Pirkle told the House Transportation Committee in a presentation last month.
As half of Georgia's infrastructure nears its unofficial expiration date, businesses are pushing to increase the weight limits of trucks on Georgia roads. Already Georgia’s booming population and economic growth have put an unforeseen strain on infrastructure. It could be a crisis in the making if officials don’t act on the data. While costs to replace individual bridges vary, usually, a couple of million dollars for a local bridge. The scale of the work needed statewide is likely in the hundreds of millions to billions of dollars in the next decade to replace the hundreds of bridges that have reached their life expectancy.