By Amy Wenk

Moores Mill Road was once again a subject of discussion for Neighborhood Planning Unit-C (NPU-C) at its June 2 meeting. However, this time the focus was on the deteriorating condition of the bridge over Peachtree Creek in Ridgewood Heights.

Since last year, conversation has dwelled on the enforcement of the Moores Mill Road Truck Ordinance, which prohibits commercial trucks — specifically those which exceed 30 feet, weigh more than 18 tons and have more than six wheels — from traversing the stretch of Moores Mill Road between I-75 and Bolton Road.

NPU-C’s focus shifted June 2 to discussing the two-lane bridge since large trucks are potentially undermining the integrity of the bridge.

“The issue is the condition of the Moores Mill bridge,” said Robert Warlick, who serves on both the Land Use and Executive committees for the NPU.

Warlick has taken a leadership role in researching the bridge, as well as serving as a liaison with city officials on the issue. During the meeting at Trinity Presbyterian Church, he presented a report he compiled on the bridge, which outlines several structural concerns.

One of the major fears of NPU-C is the safe load limit on the bridge. It was built in 1924, three years before the end of Model T Ford production. While the Model T weighed about 1200 pounds, the average car now weighs over 3,000 pounds.

In addition, the influx of large trucks over the last 18 months could be further straining the aging bridge as 18 tons equals 36,000 pounds — more than 10 times heavier than the average modern car.

“To the best of my knowledge, the bridge load limit has not been tested by any government entity to see what weights the bridge can safely support,” said Warlick in his report.

Warlick added that the safety and reliability of the bridge remains a concern as there are no load limits or bridge warning signs on either end of the structure. “And there are no ‘turn around’ signs warning oversized trucks before coming to the bridge,” he said.

Warlick is hoping the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) can provide more information, but also mentioned a resolution may be in order to get the load limits posted.

Another concern is the recent refurbishing the city completed on the bridge. In May, Warlick reported to the NPU that the sandblasting, priming and painting of the structure had been completed. He also said the clogged bridge draining culvert on the northeast end of the bridge had been cleaned out, reducing the flooding of the structure during heavy rains.

“The refurbishing project of the Moores Mill Road bridge appears to be over,” said Warlick. “There are still questions and concerns about the completion of work on the bridge that should be addressed by the city.”

According to Warlick, cracks remain in the bridge although the scope of the project originally called for such repairs. “The cracks are still there,” he said. “This important repair clearly should be included.”

NPU-C also discussed the importance of maintaining the Moores Mill bridge. Apparently if the bridge needs to be replaced, DOT would do so only in conjunction with widening Moores Mill Road to four lanes. NPU-C opposes this.

“This bridge, as ugly and awful as it is, provides significant protection for the residential character of our community,” said Eric Ranney, NPU-C chair.

Warlick concurred. “The bridge is a capital asset of considerable value, and the city should make every effort to maintain and protect it,” Warlick said in his report. “The cost of widening Moores Mill Road would be considerable and a major disruption to traffic for all the surrounding neighborhoods and commuters passing through.”

NPU-C resolved to forward the report to the Department of Public Works for its response, as well as to the Ridgewood Heights Neighborhood Association. Discussion on the bridge is expected to continue at the next meeting of NPU-C, held at Trinity Presbyterian Church, on July 1 at 7 p.m.