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The Concord Road historic Covered Bridge page

concord road covered bridge
March 28, 2024

The historic Covered Bridge has been a Cobb County fixture on Concord Road since the mid-1800s. It has evolved over the years but remains a staple at the Smyrna / Mableton line, with more than 8,000 cars traveling across the 131-foot bridge daily.

The Covered Bridge underwent a significant renovation in 2017, a project that won engineering awards.  Check out the reopening ceremony here.

The bridge has a height restriction of seven feet.

Drivers ignoring the warnings

The 2017 renovation included upgraded protective beams. Those beams have protected the bridge, but drivers who ignore multiple warning signs have hit them dozens of times.

Most drivers involved in these incidents are in rental vans, work trucks, or towing trailers. They tell police they are unfamiliar with the area and follow GPS or mapping app directions, and they either don't see or discount the warnings.

Police cite drivers who hit the beams, and their insurance is billed for any repair costs. Occasionally, a driver involved in the incident will flee the scene. Cameras near the bridge help police track down violators. Fortunately, the beams are designed so that repairs usually cost a few hundred bucks at most and take a few hours to complete.

The most serious incident happened in 2018 when a driver hit the beam so hard it had to be replaced. The insurance company paid around $3,000 for the replacement.

What protections are in place?

Cobb DOT has installed multiple “low height bridge” warning signs on each side of the bridge. There are also height-triggered flashing signs and a large truck-sized turnaround on the Smyrna side of the bridge.  Although a bit old, this video will take you on a tour.

In 2019, Cobb DOT added protective hanging pipes before turnarounds to discourage "over-height" vehicles from reaching the bridge. Here is an article and video detailing that work.

Cobb DOT has been working with those who operate GPS apps to put out warning messages, and some GPS and mapping apps have done that.  

Why does this keep happening?

This is not just a Cobb County Covered Bridge problem. This article outlines how covered bridges across the country are damaged by drivers too focused on their GPS routing, designed for regular vehicles.

image of covered bridge detour

Those who provide mapping data are reluctant to put more stringent warnings or guidance on Concord Road because this could prevent rescue crews, delivery vehicles, or work crews from making it to residents who live on either side of the bridge.

There is a simple detour around the bridge that does not add much time to the trip. Drivers can use Hurt Road and South Hurt Road to bypass the Covered Bridge. 

Why not tear down or replace the bridge?

Many people seem overly upset about the inattentive drivers who smack the bridge’s warning beams.  They’d like to see the bridge torn down and replaced.  There are some issues with that, however, including;

  • The bridge is a historic structure placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the 1980s.
  • The neighbors who live near the bridge like it and respect its history, and many live in a historic district tied to the bridge.
  • There is little property in the area to work with, and building a new bridge would be expensive. Besides, as already mentioned, there is an alternative route that does not add much time to a trip.