Bridge opens after long wait – Montevallo celebrates opening

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 3, 2005

After a more than a year, the Highway 119 Bridge in Montevallo is open once again to traffic.

Despite threatening weather and on-and-off-again rain, the city of Montevallo held a Bridge Opening Celebration last Saturday morning for the Air Force Staff Sgt. Robert Farrington Jr. Memorial Bridge.

City officials said the bridge was closed April 20, 2004, after the intersection of highways 25 and 155 was completed. A traffic light at that intersection was activated on April 10, 2004.

And on Friday, April 29 at 3:30 p.m., the bridge was open to traffic.

The celebration of the bridge opening began with a parade at 11 a.m. Saturday with about 100 people in attendance.

City officials said the old bridge was 132 feet long and 20 feet wide with four spans supporting the concrete structure.

Masonry work in the abutments indicate the bridge was constructed in about 1928.

The new bridge is 240 feet long with three 80-foot spans of reinforced concrete.

The cost of the project has been put at about $1.8 million including improvements to the intersection of Highway 25 and Highway 155.

The intersection was completed first to allow for increased traffic on the detour route once the bridge was closed.

Farrington, 34, for whom the bridge is named, died in a plane crash that killed U.S. Secretary of Commerce Ron Brown. Brown and his entourage crashed in the mountains of Croatia on April 3, 1996.

Farrington had been in charge of coordinating in-flight amenities for dignitaries flying on Air Force planes.

State Sen. Bill Armistead (R) of Columbiana arranged state approval for the bridge to be named for Farrington following his death.

Participants in the opening ceremonies for the new bridge included Montevallo Mayor Sharon Anderson; Grady Parker, former mayor of Montevallo; current city councilmembers Hollie Cost, Dana Byrd, Becky Cox-Rodgers, Willie Goldsmith and Greg Pendleton; former councilmember Bob Lightfoot; Shelby County Commissioner Earl Cunningham; State Sen. Hank Erwin; state Reps. Mike Hill and Jimmy Martin; Montevallo Chamber of Commerce president Ben McCrory; David Pritchett of The American Village; University of Montevallo president Dr. Robert McChesney, Montevallo Middle School principal Johnny McClain; Ina Ray Farrington and other members of the Farrington family; Emily Pendleton; and Pat and Agee Kelly.

Anderson said a sign for the bridge would be replaced in about a week. She noted the bridge connects the two commercial districts of Montevallo and expressed the gratitude of the community that the bridge has been improved and finally re-opened.

A victory festival was held in the parking lot across the street from city hall with music provided by CGS Events and food and beverages provided by Johnny Holsomback of Double Play in Montevallo.

The federal government contributed 80 for the cost of the project while the state provided the other 20 percent.