The historic Cobb Street bridge in Lula has reopened to traffic.
The 70-year-old wooden structure connecting Main Street to Wall Street had been closed since October 2015 after failing a Georgia Department of Transportation inspection.
The bridge’s fate was in limbo for months, with U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, getting involved in the issue.
Norfolk Southern Railroad agreed in July that it would pay for and make needed repairs — primarily replacing timber beams supporting the bridge deck.
City Manager Dennis Bergin said Monday he was thankful for all who pushed for or were involved in bridge repairs, including the railroad, Collins’ office and the state Department of Transportation.
Officials will hold a ceremony at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday to mark the bridge’s reopening.
“That bridge really speaks to the heritage of the area,” Bergin said. “There are few bridges like it in existence — at least in our immediate area.”
The sharp-angled bridge serves as an important link joining two sides of town — for cars and pedestrians.
It spans railroad tracks that run through the heart of town, with trains passing through frequently. A nearby railroad crossing at Athens and Main streets is particularly busy.
“Lula’s wooden bridge is a treasured part of this community. I’m proud of the city for preserving a landmark that has helped residents make memories for generations,” Collins said in a statement to The Times. “And I’m glad that Norfolk Southern lived up to its promise to make Cobb Street bridge stronger than ever.”
The bridge has had past difficulties, last closing in April 2011. The bridge reopened in October 2012 after Norfolk Southern completed some structural work.
During the latest bridge closing, Norfolk Southern proposed tearing down the bridge and replacing it. It said it would pay for the demolition and offered to make a $100,000 contribution to Lula.
But the city maintained that the bridge over railroad tracks should be repaired, and the DOT set a deadline of July 8 for repairs to start.
“There was quite a concern … about whether the bridge would be taken down,” Bergin said. “At the end of the day, everybody is really happy with the outcome.”
He also credited Lula City Council, which “ultimately had the decision as to whether to accept having the bridge removed. They said no, that it meant too much to the community overall, and I agree with them.”