Wednesday’s Broad Avenue bridge dedication highlights Veterans Day activities

Nov 10, 2015

By Terry Lewis, Albany Herald

ALBANY — As the county gears up for Veterans Day celebrations Wednesday, the day itself will take on added significance with the official opening and dedication of the new Broad Avenue Memorial Bridge.

The original bridge, built in 1920, was shut down in February 2009 after the Georgia Department of Transportation deemed it unfit for travel. Three years later, the Veterans Coalition of Southwest Georgia officially decommissioned it and plans began for the construction of a new bridge.

Formerly known as the Broad Avenue Bridge, the structure was dedicated to the memory of Albany’s veterans of World War I. The new bridge will honor American veterans of all wars fought since WWI.

“We’re excited that after six years we will have a bridge to span east and West Albany,” Albany City Manager Sharon Subadan said. “The bridge represents a symbolic merging of east and west.”

The celebration is being billed as a joint activity between the city and Albany State University.

Construction on the nearly $12 million project began in 2013, rerouting traffic across the nearby Oglethorpe Bridge, which has an average daily traffic count of 29,990 vehicles. Once the new Broad Avenue bridge is open, traffic counts on Broad are expected to return to their former levels of nearly 12,000 vehicles per day, thus alleviating some of the traffic across Oglethorpe.

Georgia Department of Transportation officials say the most recent estimates indicate that by 2033 traffic counts on Broad Avenue could rise to an average of nearly 16,000 vehicles per day, with 5 percent of that coming in the form of truck traffic.

Wednesday’s dedication ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. with the honor of the first bridge crossing going to veterans and assorted dignitaries The group will march to the center of the bridge where the ceremony will take place. Remarks from Albany Mayor Dorothy Hubbard, Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas, Col. James Carroll, commanding officer of MCLB-Albany, Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul, U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop and keynote remarks from Vietnam veteran Jimmy Blaylock will then be heard.

GDOT will transfer the bridge to the city and a ribbon-cutting ceremony will follow. Officials say they expect the bridge to be open to traffic by late afternoon.

Several holiday activities will be held at other times during the week.

“Operation One Voice” will kick off the week. The program features runners, comprising active military, former military, law officers and firemen, in a relay. The event is a fundraiser for families of Special Operations personnel who lost their lives in service.

The program will begin at 11 a.m. at the Veterans Park, following a jog by runners (police officers, firemen, active duty military, veterans, etc.) from the parking lot of what once was the Martin Theater property on Gillionville Road, down Slappey Boulevard to Oglethorpe Boulevard and on to the Albany Civic Center.

On Tuesday, Albany Technical College will conduct a Veterans Day ceremony at the Kirkland Conference Center at 10 a.m., while Darton State College will hold its ceremony at 7 p.m. in the college’s student center.

On Friday, Turner Job Corps will hold its Veterans Day luncheon at noon at the TJCC community relations center. The event is invitation only.

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