Forest officials looking at options regarding damaged Sipsey Rec Area bridge

The pedestrian lane of the bridge in the Sipsey Picnic Area was smashed by a falling tree during the high winds of March 3. The entire bridge is unsafe for all forms of traffic. With the lower parking lot and trailhead inaccessible, the U.S. Forest Service is assessing how to proceed.

BANKHEAD NATIONAL FOREST - The fate of the nearly 90-year-old bridge in the Sipsey River Picnic Area, which has been closed since it was damaged by a wind-felled tree on March 3, will not be known for some time.
The wood-decked pedestrian and vehicle bridge spans Sipsey Fork, providing access from the upper parking lot to the lower parking lot and the trailhead.
“During the windstorm we had a couple weeks ago, a very large tree fell on (the bridge) and caused major damage. (The bridge) didn’t completely fall in the water, but it deflected by over three feet,” said District Ranger Andy Scott, speaking at the Winston County Natural Resources Council’s monthly meeting on March 16.
“We have already had engineers out looking at it (to) give (an) assessment of what parts of it are good, what parts of it aren’t, to start getting an idea of what the future might be,” he explained at the Bankhead Liaison Panel’s quarterly meeting on March 14. “We are working quickly to try to develop a group to determine what our options are. We don’t have any answers for you yet as to what the options may be, but we are trying to find out. It’s not just going to sit there with no decisions made. We will try to get you an answer as soon as possible.”
For now, the bridge will remain closed.
“It is unsafe,” Scott said at the panel meeting. “Please do not cross that bridge.”
At the WCNRC meeting, he added, “It’s absolutely closed to all traffic, including foot traffic.”
He said the bridge was built in 1934.

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