COVINGTON, Ga. — A worker died Tuesday night when part of the Access Road bridge collapsed that he and two others were working to remove.
The victim and two others fell into the Yellow River as they worked to remove the decades-old bridge as part of a project to replace it, the Newton County Sheriff’s Office said.
Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Caitlin Jett said at about 5:27 p.m., a portion of the Access Road (Frontage Road) bridge collapsed while construction workers were dismantling the bridge, causing three of the construction workers to become submerged in the Yellow River.
The workers were rescued and received medical attention, but one fatality was reported, Jett said.
Assistant Chief Craig League of Walton County Fire Rescue said his department’s hazmat team and Ladder Truck No. 2 is assisting Newton County Fire Service.
“The hazardous materials team has deployed spill containment booms across the Yellow River in order to contain any oil or fuels coming from the heavy equipment in the river,” League said.
Truck 2 was back in service by about 9:45 p.m., but the hazmat team remained on scene.
Tucker-based Georgia Bridge and Concrete is building the $3.065 million project, which is near the Almon Road/Porterdale interchange of Interstate 20. It will require a 270-day — about nine months — closure, a GDOT spokesman said.
It was unclear if the workers were employees of Georgia Bridge.
The contractor was to close the Access Road bridge over the Yellow River in Covington beginning Monday, Oct. 18, and keep it closed for more than nine months for replacement of the 84-year-old structure.
Through traffic on Access Road was to be detoured onto I-20 during construction, GDOT announced in a news release.
Reconstruction work began approximately 550 feet west of the existing bridge and extends east 550 feet for about a quarter of a mile.
As proposed, the 320-foot long by 43-foot wide bridge includes two walls along the approaches south of the road to minimize impacts to a river pump station and nearby mobile home community.
Access Road is a major east-west route between downtown Covington and western Newton County and Conyers — carrying more than 9,000 vehicles per day.
The existing bridge, built in 1937, is "structurally deficient" and must be replaced, the release stated.
The federal government classifies a bridge as “structurally deficient” if either the deck, superstructure, substructure or culvert are rated as being in poor or worse condition, according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.