This Century Bridge Was Closed About A Year And A Half Ago. The Town Can’t Afford To Fix It.

June 18, 2021

A Century bridge remains closed nearly a year and a half after it was discovered to be near collapse, and the town can’t afford to fix it.

On January 29, 2020, the town suddenly closed the bridge on Freedom Road, just east of Jefferson Avenue. Photos obtained by a few days later showed the dangerous conditions that led to the emergency closure. Several pilings under the wooden bridge were no longer properly supporting the structure, and some of the pilings were split or have extreme deterioration.

The closure turned Freedom Road into a cul-de-sac with one way in and one way out for residents, including the Camellia Gardens apartment complex.

Interim City Manager Vernon Prather said at a recent town council meeting that Century simply does not have the money to fix the bridge. Repair costs have been estimated to be more than $300,000.

Century is set to receive $780,000 from the American Rescue Plan, a federal COVID-19 stimulus program. The town will receive half the money this year, and the other half with another year. Prather told the council they could allocate those funds for repairing the bridge, but no formal action has been taken.

“We haven’t forgot about it,” Prather said. If there comes an opportunity for a grant or other COVID money, we will certainly present that to the council.”

In January 2020, Mott McDonald engineers conducted a limited inspection of the bridge and found the following problems:

  • A backwall has deflected toward the water, pushing piles toward the water and causing them to rotate, split and no longer bear weight.
  • One bridge piling has a split at the top of the pile, but it is providing some support.
  • A second pile has been pushed completely out and no longer supports the bridge.
  • A third pile has split, and only half the pile is providing support.
  • A fourth pile has deterioration with only a three-inch diameter section remaining about six feet below the bridge. The outer pile section has broken.
  • There is soil loss behind a backwall.
  • There is a large void underneath the roadway on the east side the bridge

“We cannot predict when the…backwall lateral loads will complete fail…causing the bridge the collapse,” engineer Bart Hendricks wrote in his report. “We also cannot predict when the roadway over the void on the southeast corner will collapse”

The age of the bridge was not provided to the engineer, but he determined the timber pilings may be at or beyond the typical life of 30 years. “A better long-term financial decision may be to replace this structure rather than perform repairs,” Hendricks wrote.

Photos/graphics for and by, click to enlarge.


23 Responses to “This Century Bridge Was Closed About A Year And A Half Ago. The Town Can’t Afford To Fix It.”

  1. M in Bratt on June 20th, 2021 6:35 pm

    @ William 2. Take a count on how many dead end roads and cul de sacs are in Century alone, and none seem to adversely effect emergency service or access. Most subdivisions now are designed with cul de sacs. I will give you that you have some valid questions, but if there are no adverse effects from this road being closed, leave it closed and save that money.

  2. Sandra on June 20th, 2021 2:03 pm

    Just wondering if it would be less cost to install large drainage pipes instead of bridging the roadway.

  3. William 2 on June 20th, 2021 11:37 am

    M in Bratt, would not having a bridge affect emergency services to residents in the area? Would it hinder evacuation in the event of an emergency? I can think of more reasons to rebuild the structure than not having it at all.

  4. David Huie Green on June 19th, 2021 7:34 pm

    “You are assuming that infrastructure in a third world country is in worse shape than Century.”

    Depending on the country and location within it, they tend to be. Many have no electricity or only for short periods, no paved roads or plumbing, phone service, internet service, TV, newspaper, library, NO DOLLAR STORE!!

    Oh, and few or poor bridges.

  5. M in Bratt on June 19th, 2021 6:27 pm

    What would be wrong with tearing the old bridge down, and leaving it a dead end road? People still have access from the other end and have been using it for a year and a half. Just because there was a bridge built there doesn’t mean one is necessary

  6. Chris on June 19th, 2021 1:35 pm

    You are assuming that infrastructure in a third world country is in worse shape than Century.

  7. terry on June 19th, 2021 11:58 am

    When candidates are running for County Comissioner they sure come to Century for their vote, when Century needs help where are they.

  8. Htt on June 19th, 2021 9:41 am

    How old is the bridge?

  9. tax payer on June 19th, 2021 8:37 am

    @just listening

    Maybe if the ECSO would send their traffic unit up to Jefferson Ave. they could do some work and slow them down. MAYBE EVEN WRITE A TICKET, HAHAHAHAHA

  10. clayton on June 19th, 2021 8:19 am

    I think we should just give Century to Alabama. When’s the last time anyone heard about something going right in Century? In addition, it’s a horrible site for anyone entering the state of Florida from that direction. The place is falling apart….It will never be anything more than it is now……

  11. District 5 Girl on June 18th, 2021 9:00 pm

    “Century is set to receive $780,000 from the American Rescue Plan, a federal COVID-19 stimulus program. The town will receive half the money this year, and the other half with another year.”

    The Century Council should NOT have access to this money without extensive supervision from an outside party who will ensure that it it used for what it is intended for and what will provide the most benefit for the citizens. From what I’ve seen over the past few years that I’ve lived in the north end, Century leadership has had a poor track record with funds and needs supervision.

  12. William Lingo on June 18th, 2021 6:03 pm

    There needs to be a serious in depth audit of the town of Centry, to much money seems to be walking away or misappropriated. Property taxes should also be collected properly, including pentalty fees, that $12,000 the county decided to let slide recently would help.

  13. 429SCJ on June 18th, 2021 5:10 pm

    The Army Corp Of Engineers could come in demolish, and construct a new bridge in a couple of days.

    This would be a good project for our Reserve and National Guard troops. If they can rebuild the third world, they should be able to help Century, to help us Americans.

  14. Reader on June 18th, 2021 4:08 pm

    “The last time i remember Century was part of District 5,so why does the county commision not help Century.”

    Because Century is its own town, just like Pensacola. When they choose to remain a town, they choose to accept the revenue and maintain their own infrastructure. Pensacola pays its way. Century should too, or stop being a town.

  15. terry on June 18th, 2021 3:15 pm

    The last time i remember Century was part of District 5,so why does the county commision not help Century.

  16. David on June 18th, 2021 3:06 pm

    That bridge is testament to how the towns health is .
    Cant afford to fix itself.
    Never will.

  17. Alan on June 18th, 2021 1:26 pm

    I agree with @just listening. Tear out what is there and replace it with a metal or concrete culvert with wing walls. Probably cost less and last for 50-100 years.

  18. JT on June 18th, 2021 9:28 am

    Just don’t assume the bridges gender. Century needs to worry about gendered pronouns and not critical infrastructure.

  19. Just listening on June 18th, 2021 8:11 am

    YES!! It has been forgotten about. Out of sight out of mind for the Mayor and so called city manager. Because of this bridge being out now has doubled the traffic on Jefferson Ave. Many folks traveling Jefferson Ave. think it is I65 with speed of 70 MPH when the posted speed is 25 MPH. If the city has the money coming—Get off your behind and get the bridge replaced before the money looks too big in the eyes of the city officials and want to spend or waste it otherwise. Two large Culver’s replaced a dilapidated bridge on Jefferson Ave. many years ago and has served well to date. This would be the quickest replacement and most cost efficient if done properly. Don’t come in with cheap, thin walled and/or inferior products and expect it last. Do the job right,not like a bunch of twelve year olds. Just saying

  20. Chris on June 18th, 2021 8:04 am

    But as long as we don’t refer to the bridge by the improper gender name , it’s all okay.

  21. Vicky on June 18th, 2021 7:01 am

    The town can’t afford to fix the bridge but they keep getting brand new work trucks take the money from one of those and fix our bridges,, our town needs some help or new management

  22. sam on June 18th, 2021 6:04 am


  23. Anne on June 18th, 2021 5:59 am

    Vernon Prather, Interim City Manager, who lives in Gulf Breeze, FL, should be able to find the “Repair costs have been estimated to be more than $300,000.”
    Seems that a bit ago Gulf Breeze partnered with the Town of Century so Gulf Breeze could secure loans for their “Proper” town.
    Why can’t Gulf Breeze return some of that money to repair the bridge in Century?

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