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Bridge to success: Firefly Trail span picks up several awards

From its appearance on the cover of an iconic EP from Athens' own REM to its new life as part of the county's extensive network of trails, the Firefly Bridge over Trail Creek is an enduring Athens symbol.

Now the work redesigning the former railroad trestle is being recognized for its design and public engagement. The project, which ACC officials say involved heavy public input, picked up five awards in recent months, including one national recognition.

  • The American Council of Engineering Companies designated the bridge as a “National Recognition Award” winner.
  • The American Council of Engineering Companies of Georgia awarded it the first place “Engineering Excellence State Award for Structural Systems.”
  • The Georgia Partnership for Transportation Quality (GPTQ) for Preconstruction Design recognized the bridge as a finalist in three categories:

    • Planning and Design of an Alternative Mode of Transportation Facility
    • Context Sensitive Planning and Design including Public Participation Plan
    • Bridge/Structural Design
  • Additionally, GPTQ honored Firefly Bridge over Trail Creek with a second award, the “Grand Prize Award” presented to the project best overall out of the 10 award categories.
  • Locally, Historic Athens presented the project with its “Innovative Solutions in Rehabilitation Award” for 2024.

The bridge was constructed in 1888. The trestle was part of Georgia’s first state-chartered railroad, which opened in 1841 between Athens and Augusta.

Martin Matheny is WUGA's Program Director and a host and producer of our local news program 'Athens News Matters.' He started at WUGA in 2012 as a part-time classical music host and still hosts WUGA's longest-running local program 'Night Music' which is heard on WUGA and GPB Classical. He lives in Normaltown with his wife, Shaye and dog, Murphy.