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This historic bridge in Lula again faces repairs
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Lula has a deal with Norfolk Southern to make needed repairs on the Cobb Street railroad bridge. - photo by Scott Rogers

The historic Cobb Street railroad bridge in downtown Lula faces repairs once again.  

Norfolk Southern Railway owns the bridge and was liable to fix it after the Georgia Department of Transportation ruled in May 2020 that it had structural deficiencies and would not support its listed weight limit. 

Railroad officials told the city of Lula last week that it would take three to four months to get materials for the repairs and an additional one to two months to complete.

The bridge has already been closed for more than a year.  

“We’re fairly hopeful that within the next six months the bridge will be back in operation,” Lula Mayor Jim Grier said. “We want to be kind of understanding. Norfolk Southern’s a big organization. (GDOT) is a big organization. And they have a lot of things on their radar besides one little bridge in Lula.”

The 100-year-old bridge has had chronic issues. It last closed because of deficiencies in 2015, reopening in 2016. Before that, it last closed in April 2011, reopening in October 2012.

When in operation, more than 400 cars travel across the bridge each day, Grier said. It allows cars to pass over the railroad tracks, and when it’s out of commission, cars must use nearby Athens Street to go over the tracks. When a train is stopped, drivers must wait, and this can create a problem not just for daily traffic but for EMS services.

Officials from the city of Lula, GDOT, railroad and representatives from U.S. Rep. Andrew Clyde’s, R-Athens, office met two weeks ago to talk about the bridge and other long-term solutions for emergency services transportation in the city. 

The border between Hall County and Banks County is not quite at the railroad tracks, Grier said, which means that some EMS service must come from Hall County and cross over the railroad in the case of an incident there.

“We all agreed sitting at the table last week that the issues we have here in Lula with having a path for emergency vehicles from one side of the track to the other is important and this bridge is not the long-term solution for that,” Grier said. “We left the meeting with a plan for a plan.”

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Lula has a deal with Norfolk Southern to make needed repairs on the Cobb Street railroad bridge. - photo by Scott Rogers
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