School officials may have found a more cost-effective way to remedy the pedestrian bridge woes at Warren County Middle School, perhaps saving up to a quarter-million dollars.
The new idea is not to try to salvage the large walkway closest to Nunley Stadium that connects the school’s auxiliary building with the main campus, but instead to demolish it, leaving the two other bridges to connect the two sections of the school over the gulf the separates them.
“We are waiting for the fire marshal to sign off on it,” said Director of Schools Bobby Cox to the Warren County Board of Education. “We’re looking at $25,000 to $30,000 for demolition.”
Issues were discovered in the three bridges when examiners found the internal structures of the walkways are starting to deteriorate. Without intervention, the examiners say, the concrete structures could become unstable at some point. While still viable and safe to cross, falling pieces of the crumbling structures have forced school administrators to close off sections of campus below them to protect students.
Cox said as long as egress requirements are met, meaning students can safely get out of the building in case of emergency, then the project can go forward. The other two bridges can be saved by having them serviced. The entire project, Cox estimates, will be about $125,000, a stark reduction from the original plan where the school was trying to save the largest walkway.
“There are just one and a half classes that would need that exit,” Cox said, referring to the bridge set for demolition. “We will change that door into a window and have a different egress from the building.”
As for timing, Cox hopes demolition can begin over fall break, but it could take up until Christmas break for the actual tear down to begin. The noise and safety issues will likely prevent the demolition from happening while school is in session. Students return to school Aug. 10.