City DopeNews

Athens’ Famous ‘Murmur Trestle’ Is Coming Down

Credit: Jason Perry

It’s the end of the Murmur Trestle as we know it. Workers started to dismantle the structure last week in preparation for building a new bridge over Trail Creek as part of the Firefly Trail.

So called because it was depicted on the back cover of R.E.M.’s 1983 album, CSX Transportation partially demolished the Murmur Trestle in 2002 before Athens-Clarke County stepped in to save what remained. County officials decided that the abandoned railroad should be converted into a trail. But raising funds and getting federal grant approval took over a decade, and in the meantime, the trestle deteriorated. By 2018 an engineering study determined that it was no longer structurally sound. This created a Ship of Theseus situation, with 80% of the existing wood needing to be replaced.

After several years of debate and input from hundreds of citizens, the ACC Commission decided in 2019 to build a new bridge that would mimic the look of the wooden trestle in the center, buttressed on either side by modern steel arches. Construction should be completed by September or October of 2022, according to SPLOST project manager Derek Doster.

Regardless of what one thinks of the design, the new bridge will make it far easier to walk or bike on the Firefly Trail. Users will be able to stay on a level path, rather than descend into Dudley Park to use an existing bridge and climb back up.