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Historic Madison County bridge relocated to park

The Department of Transportation said the bridge was not safe for drivers any longer.

Posted: Aug 13, 2019 5:39 PM
Updated: Aug 14, 2019 9:01 AM

A historic Madison County bridge more than a century old now has a new home. Crews spent about three hours moving it from Upper Hurricane Road to Sharon Johnston Park in New Market.

Jenny Barnett, the park director, says in the decade she's worked at Sharon Johnston Park, she's seen the surrounding community grow.

"We have beautiful land out here...It's a great community, great school system, so of course people wanting to move out here, we have seen the growth just in the past 10 years," she said.

With growth, comes wear and tear, like the bridge on Upper Hurricane Road. The Alabama Department of Transportation said it's so deteriorated, it's no longer safe for drivers.

The legend behind the bridge is it was made famous by the 1916 murder of Judge Lawler. His accused killer was the Madison County sheriff, his political rival.

On Tuesday, a team carefully moved the bridge using trucks and a heavy-duty crane.

"I think it's so important to preserve our history and what things were like many years ago when our parents and their parents were growing up. We need to do that and here at the park, it's the best place to do that," said Roger Jones, the Madison County commissioner.

Now, crews will spend a couple of months sanding, painting and putting a new floor on the bridge, so park goers can enjoy a part of history while making it safely across a stream in the park.

"We felt like the best place to put it was at Sharon Johnston Park where people can enjoy it for years to come," Jones said.

This isn't the first time the park has preserved pieces of history in Madison County. The 250 acre park has a cabin from the 1800s and a 19th century village.

"We wanted the bridge to be enjoyed by everyone passing by the park and wanted it to be seen, so we put it at the basin of the waterfall where our spill over is," Barrett said.

For now, drivers on Upper Hurricane Road can use a temporary road near the bridge. In about a month, crews will install a used bridge it its place. The bridge is not heavily traveled. It leads to a few homes up a mountain.

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