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Lee County Commission Approves North Donahue Bridge Project

The Lee County Commission approved joint funding plans with the city of Auburn to replace the North Donahue bridge at its meeting June 29.

"The bridge is really outdated for the amount of traffic on that road," said Mathan Holt, a Lee County commissioner. "It's not as safe as it should be. You can tell when you drive over it."

Charlie Duggan, Auburn city manager, said the entire bridge, which is located north of Yarbrough Elementary, will be replaced. The plans also included repairing the stretch of road on North Donahue located between the bridge and Farmville Road.

"The bridge needs to be replaced," Duggan said. "It was recently inspected and is still considered safe, but it's nearing the end of its life. We would rather replace it now before it's a big problem later."

Holt said the city of Auburn would handle the engineering and design of the bridge. The Lee County Commission will fund about half of the project.

According to the Opelika-Auburn News, the total estimated cost of the bridge replacement is $1.76 million. The project will also include new 6-foot shoulders and a bicycle path.

"When the bridge is replaced it will have a lifespan of many decades," Duggan said.

Many drivers frequent the stretch of road north of the bridge on North Donahue that is planning to be repaired.

"I'm glad to hear they are doing something about it," said Jodi Cowhick, a junior in early childhood education. "I drive that way to go home, and I've always wondered if it was going to be fixed anytime soon. That part of the road is pretty bad."

Duggan said the shoulders of the road will be improved as well as new turn lanes.

"The shoulders on Donahue are very narrow and there are some elevation changes where parts of it are kind of steep," Duggan said. "We're trying to improve that for those people who find themselves wandering off the road. This way they won't get too far off the pavement."

The road will have two 12-foot lanes along with 6-foot shoulders, according to the Opelika-Auburn News. A 12-foot turn lane from Crescent Boulevard to Farmville Road will also be added.

"The roadwork north of the bridge is estimated to cost around $600,000," Duggan said. The bridge replacement and the roadwork on North Donahue will begin sometime in 2010 and is expected to take a year to complete. Detours will also be placed all along the area, allowing drivers to avoid construction.

"Before the projects can actually begin, the Auburn City Council has to form a contract that both the Lee County Commission and the City Council will have to sign off on," Duggan said. "The contract should be completed by August."

"We have done several joint funding projects with the County Commission and the city of Auburn before," Holt said. "Sometimes they take the lead and sometimes we take the lead. This time, we're going to give them the money and let them handle the contracting."

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