Talmadge Memorial Bridge
Talmadge Memorial Bridge

State lawmakers in Savannah weigh in on mystery mailer campaign, 'A Bridge Too Far For Savannah’

State Reps. Anne Allen Westbrook (D-163) and Jesse Petrea (R-166) comment on mailer.

Under the sleepy oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, a new mystery has befallen the fair city of Savannah.


Text messages from “Hannah” have been received by residents regarding the Talmadge Bridge, which spans the Savannah River between downtown Savannah and Hutchinson Island. Other names used to send the text messages include “Addison” and “Jake."

click to enlarge State lawmakers in Savannah weigh in on mystery mailer campaign, 'A Bridge Too Far For Savannah’
A Bridge Too Far For Savannah
Text message from "Hannah"

Also mailboxes across the Lowcountry have been receiving expensive full color 8.5 x 11 glossy mailers.

Both the mailers and text messages direct people to a website for "A Bridge Too Far For Savannah."

The mailers, text messages, and website implore the recipients to “submit public comment demanding Georgia DOT stop and listen to our concerns."

If you call any of the phone numbers used to send text messages, they ring with a busy signal.

The mailers have a return address of 1305 Barnard Street, Savannah GA which is the location for Mailbox Cafe.

Businesses and individuals can contract with the Barnard Street business, which provides an array of services including mailbox rentals, to use their address; but Khalief Kelly, manager of Mailbox Cafe, said that he could not find an account for A Bridge Too Far For Savannah.

Where a stamp would traditionally go, the mailers say, “presorted first class US postage paid - Direct One, Inc.”

Direct One, Inc. is a mail house out of Winter Park, Florida.

Connect Savannah reached out to Direct One, Inc. and spoke with Chris Federico, Director of Procurement, who confirmed that their company was contracted to send out the mailer.

Federico said, “I cannot give any information about the customer."

“We have security protocols in place to make sure that all of the customer data is secured,” said Federico. “We are locked up tight.”

Federico would not answer if his client is an individual or a business entity.

Representative Anne Allen Westbrook (D-163) is one of the people who have received text messages and mailers.

State lawmakers in Savannah weigh in on mystery mailer campaign, 'A Bridge Too Far For Savannah’
A Bridge Too Far For Savannah
State Rep. Anne Allen Westbrook (D-163) also has texts from "Hannah"
Westbrook says, “I am in favor of efforts to engage citizens in civic life, including giving their input into public projects such as modifying or replacing the bridge. However, people want to know who is engaging them and whether those engaging them have a special interest in a project like this or whether they are just concerned citizens. I am seeing confusion among citizens about who is sending these mailers and texts. And I think that confusion can create mistrust and undermine what is otherwise an admirable goal of encouraging citizen engagement in civic life.”

Representative Jesse Petrea (R-166) has also been receiving text messages and mail.

“It's pretty aggressive,” says Petrea. “It takes money to do a mailer to folks throughout the county and I know how much money it costs to do mailers. So, a lot of money there. I don’t know what the intention is or who’s behind it. I think that the public has a right to know and I think that they should know; if you are running a campaign to advocate for something, I can’t imagine a time when you shouldn’t be transparent about who you are and what your goals are. I don’t know why they wouldn’t be transparent in the first place.”

Some have assumed that Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) or the Georgia Ports Authority are behind the mailers and text messages, but that theory is not plausible as the website speaks out against both entities.
click to enlarge State lawmakers in Savannah weigh in on mystery mailer campaign, 'A Bridge Too Far For Savannah’
A Bridge Too Far For Savannah

The website linked to the marketing campaign says, “The impact of this $2 billion project on Savannah is massive and there has not been sufficient transparency or time given to comprehend its implications and explore all available options. GPA and GDOT must enhance efforts to inform the community adequately, allowing ample time for public input on all concepts, not just those benefiting a single party.”

The website also attempts to invoke emotional arguments regarding our community, “The current proposed location fails to address the historical division caused by the bridge, especially affecting neighborhoods in West Savannah and the Canal District, potentially leading to displacement and ongoing negative impacts. A new location can reconcile our beautiful city.”
click to enlarge State lawmakers in Savannah weigh in on mystery mailer campaign, 'A Bridge Too Far For Savannah’
A Bridge Too Far For Savannah

Questions remain.

Who is funding this marketing campaign to advocate for the bridge to be moved to a different location?

Why are they investing so much money to advocate the public be against the current location?

Where do they want a new bridge to be built?

What will they gain if a new bridge is built at a location that they desire?
Connect Savannah to Chris Federico of Direct One, Inc: “You might be the only person that knows who is behind the 'A Bridge Too Far For Savannah' campaign.”

Chris Federico: “I might be.”

So the mystery remains unsolved and citizens of Savannah are left to speculate over the anonymous entity sending them text messages and glossy mailers.

The first public comment period to submit a GDOT survey ended on June 5.

Kristy Edenfield

Freelance Correspondent
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