“If you’re driving through at a busy time of day — or at any time, really — you have to play this game of waiting on cars to cross the bridge one at a time,” said Karen Gill, a Carrollton resident who uses the Roop Street entrance frequently.
The city plans on changing that and has announced plans to widen the bridge, which leads into one of the busiest shopping centers in Carroll County, to two lanes. In a letter to the business tenants of the center, the new bridge should be completed no later than Nov. 9.
“This is a very narrow bridge, and we have had several close calls over the years,” City Manager Casey Coleman said. “This is mainly about citizens’ safety. It can get pretty hairy there sometimes.”
The letter sent from Coleman’s office said the bridge, which will have a sidewalk, could be closed for construction as early as by the end of this week.
The shopping center, at 1109 S. Park St., houses several high-profile Carrollton stores, including Target, Belk and Publix.
“This is something we’ve been planning to do for several years now, and the time’s come now,” Coleman said. “We plan to start very shortly.”
As it is now, drivers must proceed with caution when approaching the bridge, taking a one-at-a-time approach when faced with head-on traffic. This waiting causes backups, compounded by the cars waiting to turn from Roop Street onto South Park Street.
Businesses near the bridge are expecting to see an increase in customer traffic because of the project.
“This is a good thing, I appreciate them doing it,” said Carl Kelly, a manager at Publix. “I don’t see how it could be anything but a help to us.”
Kelly said the new bridge will free up the “in-and-out access” to the store’s back entrance.
Taylor Keown, a manager at the McDonald’s near the bridge, said she also expects the widening to help the business.
“I think our business is going to drop while they’re building it, but it will get back up to a higher level when they’re done in November,” she said.
Other than the safety improvements of a wider bridge, Coleman said tractor-trailers will be able to use the bridge no matter how much they’re carrying. The one-lane bridge now has a weight limit of five tons.
Trucks delivering goods to the stores are usually not allowed to turn in at the traffic light at Southwire Family Medical Center because of the narrow and curvy lanes throughout the shopping center. During construction, Coleman said trucks will “just have to” disregard that posted rule.
“Any truck, no matter what they’re carrying, will be safe once the new bridge is open,” Coleman said. “That’s a great benefit.”