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SpecialFriends of Concord Cover Bridge member Lanier Ivester walks across the renovated historical bridge as a ribbon-cutting ceremony reopened the structure in this photograph from 2017.

It happened again.

The beam in front of the historic Concord Road Covered Bridge was hit by “another van,” late afternoon on Wednesday, according to Ross Cavitt, a spokesman for Cobb County government.

“Apparently a work van of some sort went through and hit the beam and then left. It didn’t topple the beam, it just broke some of the bolts that hold it up,” he said. “I think they’re probably trying to track the person down.”

Cavitt said this is the 22nd time a vehicle has caused damage to the protective beam since the bridge was renovated in 2017. He also said the strike came a day before work on even more preventative measures began.

In April, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners approved a $20,000 project to install mast arms on both sides of the bridge, which will hang pieces of “PVC-like” pipe by chains at the 7-foot-tall mark, Cavitt said. He said the pipes, which will be wrapped in reflective red material, are designed to make a noise when hit by a vehicle taller than the bridge’s clearance.

Only two mast arms on the Smyrna side of the bridge have been installed so far, and crews are preparing to install the arms on the Mableton side of the bridge, Cavitt said.

According to him, the Cobb Department of Transportation will install the chains and pipes to hang off them next week.

Already in place, Cavitt said, are optical sensors that go across the road on either side, which trigger warning signs for motorists with vehicles too tall for the bridge. The new measures will hopefully prompt motorists with large vehicles to heed the flashing signs “telling them to please turn around,” he said.

Cavitt said county staff isn’t quite sure why, so far, motorists haven’t noticed or trusted the warning signs, but in talking with police and transportation officials, it sounds like most of the vehicles that hit the beam are driven by people not local to the area.

“The vast majority are U-Haul vans or work vans and people that are clearly not used to driving Concord Road,” he said. “Some have even told police they were just following the GPS.”

As far as how people miss the multiple warning signs, Cavitt says: “I really don’t know. That’s been kind of one of life’s mysteries.”

Dating back to 1872, the bridge that crosses Nickajack Creek just past Concord Road’s intersection with the East-West Connector was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1980. The bridge reopened in mid-December 2017 after receiving about $803,000 worth of repairs.

Follow Thomas Hartwell on Twitter at twitter.com/MDJThomas

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