Failed Century Bridge Closed For Three Years; Now Two More Bridges Now Have Issues

February 21, 2023

A Century bridge that was near collapse has now been closed for over three years, and now the town is looking at repair issues with two more bridges.

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 had extreme deterioration (pictured above).

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.

Now, two more bridges are facing washout issues.

For more photos, click or tap here.

On Jefferson Avenue, just north of Freedom Road, there’s a large area washed out between two large culverts that travel under the concrete structure. Our photographs show a void that extends for several feet under the sloped concrete side of the bridge, but it’s unclear if the void extends under the concrete roadway deck. Mayor Ben Boutwell said the bridge is believed to be safe, but no certified bridge inspection has been done.

And on Jefferson Avenue over Mill Creek, near the old sawmill, there’s another washout problem according to the town.

Boutwell said the town is working to find the funding necessary to make the repairs to all three bridges, if possible.

Repair cost estimates for the Freedom Road bridge are over $1 million — funds Century does not have on hand. Their entire budget for the town and operations like gas and water is just $5.8 million for the entire year.

Boutwell said the town has asked the local legislative delegation to fund two projects — repair the Freedom Road bridge for $1 million plus and $1 million for repairs to the water well that serves Century Correctional Institution.

“But we’ve made it clear that if they can only do one, the water well is the priority,” the mayor said. In August 2022, the well suffered a “catastrophic” failure, forcing the town to switch to an emergency connection to Central Water Works.  That has cost the town $52,952 as of the end of February.

The town is also seeking Community Development Block Grant funds for all  three bridges.

“We might be able to retroactively apply for Hurricane Sally funds that are available,” the mayor added.

Freedom Road Bridge

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 completly 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.

Mott McDonald engineers also recommended that the town perform bridge inspections for all bridges that are not inspected by the Florida Department of Transportation. Those inspections are required every two years for longer bridges by the Federal Highway Administration. The town has not moved forward with the inspections.

For more photos, click or tap here.

Pictured top and bottom photos: The closed Freedom Road bridge. Pictured inset and first three photos below: The Jefferson Avenue bridge just north of Freedom Road. photos, click to enlarge.


9 Responses to “Failed Century Bridge Closed For Three Years; Now Two More Bridges Now Have Issues”

  1. Sug on February 22nd, 2023 1:37 pm

    What is wrong with Century government? Corruption never stops! Nobody doing anything about it, either, including the voters. Typical…

  2. Eddie on February 22nd, 2023 7:43 am

    The town is not broke there are something gs in town that are broke and it seems that no one wants to fix the problem thTs why I will be running for counsil

  3. SMH… on February 21st, 2023 2:30 pm

    The problem with Century being broke has been an ongoing issue for years, but it IS one that can be remedied if only they would make some changes. Century takes in enough revenue to function and be sustainable, but there’s just too many hands in the pot. There’s no way for it to operate at a profit as it stands now. Century will always be in the red unless there are changes made. There’s a system in place that has been going on for years and will continue unless someone wises up and figure out wherein or who in the problem lies. If you continue to have the same operation, then you will continue to have the same outcome. There always comes a time for change. Council, you all need to wise up.

  4. Chris on February 21st, 2023 10:17 am

    Looks like the bridges closely resemble the town; failing and needing to be shut down.

  5. Bob on February 21st, 2023 10:01 am

    You get what you vote for…

  6. tax payer on February 21st, 2023 9:48 am


  7. RaD on February 21st, 2023 9:31 am

    The town has failed.
    There are not enough people to make it viable.
    Give the State back the city charter and return rule to the county.

  8. Willis on February 21st, 2023 9:23 am

    Where’s your L.O.S.T funds.
    Should be able to fund something.

    As for the pipes on Jefferson cut the concrete between them and see what you’ve got. Probably not much worse than the picture. If not riprap between them.

  9. Js on February 21st, 2023 8:50 am

    A never ending story, Century doesn’t have funds, Century counsel member embezzles money, oh need a roof that costs more than a new home on a courthouse that can’t be used. Oh we Haven’t been charging enough on water and gas lets raise it. Why is Century responsible for a state prisons water tower?

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