The song title “Old Man River” is symbolic of the late I.J. “Jud” Scott, Sr. of Scott Bridge Company of Opelika, Alabama.
Mr. Scott worked in the construction business for 55 years until his retirement in 1975. Most of his years were spent building bridges. Another song title “Deep Water” fits his company as it specialized in bridges with piers in deep water, requiring “know how” in floating equipment, cofferdams and mass concrete pours underwater.
Standing in Alabama monuments to this dedicated builder and his company are: Interstate 85 twin bridges across the Chattahoochee River at Lanett, Alabama; the river piers in the Tennessee River at Whitesburg, south of Huntsville; the Stemley Bridge of Pell City over the Coosa River; the Warrior River Bridge of Pell City over the Coosa River; the Warrior River Bridge in Jefferson County in Birmingham; the Warrior River piers at Elkahatchee Creek, the Tennessee River bridge at Guntersville and most notably the Kowaliga Bridge over Lake Martin near Alexander City, Alabama. (Scott built the deepest cofferdams in the United States on this project). In addition, numerous major river bridges throughout the state of Georgia and the 5,000 ft. Hathaway Bridge in Florida between Panama City and the beach.
Jud started in the construction business in 1921 with Brooks Calloway Company where he remained until 1927.
He was associated with M.D. Morgan Company from 1927 to 1932.
In 1933 he became a member of Scott Construction Company of Thomasville, Georgia with partners W.F. Scott and W.A. Britton, doing general construction such as highways, airports, dams while continuing to live in Opelika. During this time he built the Opelika dam and filter plant for its water reservoir.
Mr. Scott and his brothers divided the Scott Construction Company in 1957 and Jud formed his own company, The Scott Company, confining his operation to his specialty of bridge construction.
The Scott Company became Scott Bridge Company, Inc. in 1965. At this time, according to Mr. Scott, he made the smartest personnel decision of his career when he hired Gerard Swarthout, Jr. to join the company as Chief Engineer and who later became President of the firm.
Today, Scott Bridge Company is lead by Jud’s namesake; I. (Ike) J. Scott, III and Gerard Swarthout’s son, Jack.
Mr. Jud Scott became a member of ARBA in 1957. He served as Board member and committee member. His greatest contribution to ARBA was through his political work with the Executive and Legislative branches of State Government over three decades.
He was dedicated in helping to create fund, and build the State’s infrastructure and worked diligently to accomplish this. Jud Scott’s dedication wasn’t only to bridges alone. Born in Rockdale, Georgia, he moved to Opelika and married an Opelika girl, Frances Morgan and lived there until his death in 1984.
Through the years, he was very civic minded. The highest tribute a man can receive comes from the people where he has lived for many years.
In 1975, Mr. Scott was named the “Distinguished Citizen of the Year” by the City of Opelika. Two items from his public statement made by the citizens of Opelika define the man: “During World War II he bought the old armory building and rebuilt it for the use of the young people of Opelika as a recreation center” and “he also cleaned up and rebuilt many parts of the city making it a better place to live.
I.J. (Jud) Scott, Sr. was committed to the highest principals of Faith, Family and Freedom. He was an avid writer to the Opelika Daily news where he made his opinions, both, serious and humorous, well known. He was a Democratic Elector to two National Conventions in 1964 and 1968.
After the Supreme Court threw prayer and the Ten Commandments out of the public schools, Jud founded Scott Preparatory School, which later became Lee-Scott Academy, one of the leading independent schools in the state today.
Of the many things that Mr. Scott committed his time to, none was more important than his church. First Baptist of Opelika where he served for many years as Deacon and Chairman of the Building committee.
At his death in 1984, he was survived by his wife Frances, his son, I.J. Scott, Jr., his daughter Marion, four grandsons and three great-grand children.
His family legacy today includes I. J. Scott, II, President of Scott Bridge Co. and ARBA Board member; Bill Scott, Vice President of Scott Bridge Co. and 10 great grandchildren.