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Eyes on the Road: Flowery Branch restudying bridge bids

POSTED: July 30, 2014 1:07 a.m.

Flowery Branch has hit a delay in its much-needed Spring Street bridge project.

Bids for the work all came in over budget, Mayor Mike Miller said.

“At this point, we will circle back with the bidders, find out where the disconnect is in our budgeting of it and their proposals and see where we need to meet,” he said.

Officials will explore “if there’s a middle ground or if there’s something we didn’t spell out correctly or that they misinterpreted in our bid proposal,” Miller added.

“At that point, we would probably ask them to resubmit those bids.”

City Planner John McHenry said in May he hoped the project, estimated to cost $350,000, could start this summer. According to a legal notice published in June, the city expected to award the project on Aug. 7.

Spring Street’s culvert on Flowery Branch Creek failed during heavy flooding on
May 19, 2013. City officials later decided to replace the structure with a bridge “because we felt that was something that would allow an even greater volume of water and ensure we wouldn’t run into this problem again,” McHenry said.

There is a sense of urgency about the project, Miller said.

“We say a little prayer every time the weather people start calling for heavy rain,” he said.

Adding to the city’s anxiety is Norfolk Southern Railway Co. saying last week its plans to build new culverts at crossings in Flowery Branch have been put off indefinitely, as the company awaits permission from the Army Corps of Engineers to work on corps property.

Officials requested permits from the corps in May, hoping to start construction this month and finish by fall, but they have since learned corps right of way “is now required for new construction,” said Rick Harris, railroad spokesman.

That wasn’t the case in 1957, when the original culverts were installed and the corps was building Lake Lanier,

“Once the easements are secured and the permits are issued by the corps, we will start construction on the culverts,” Harris said.

The need for the projects came to light during the May 2013 flooding, which put underwater a stretch of Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway between the Flowery Branch sewer plant and Wayne Drive.

Norfolk Southern is looking to install two lines of 9-foot-by-9-foot box culverts where Flowery Branch Creek flows under railroad tracks. And it is looking to put one 9-foot-by-9-foot box culvert at a tributary some 250-300 feet south of the creek, Harris said.

All the culverts will be made of reinforced concrete.

The news is brighter in another Flowery Branch road project, as engineering work has been completed on a 140-foot roundabout in the downtown area, Miller said.

The roundabout is part of the planned Lights Ferry Connector, which will run between Ga. 13 and McEver Road.

Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him:



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