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Browns Bridge closing for 2 weekends for repairs
First closure starts Friday night
Browns Bridge.

Browns Bridge, one of Hall County’s few links to neighboring counties over Lake Lanier, is slated to be closed for repairs the next two weekends.

“The driving surface … is in need of repair,” the Georgia Department of Transportation states in a press release. “Please pardon our progress.”

The work is set to start 9 p.m. Oct. 21 and Oct. 28, going through each weekend until 5 a.m. Oct. 24 and Oct. 31.

Detour signs will be placed at the intersections of McEver Road/Ga. 53 and Browns Bridge Road/Ga. 369 as well as Keiths Bridge Road/Ga. 306 and Browns Bridge Road.

“Drivers need to slow down and drive alert while learning the traffic pattern,” the DOT states in a press release.

Longtime West Hall resident Dieter Jager said the closings won’t pose a personal inconvenience, and he is happy the 20-year-old driving surface on Browns Bridge is finally being replaced.

For him, the project will finally end the loud, unsettling noise of heavy trucks traveling over the aging bridge that spans Lake Lanier at the Hall-Forsyth county line.

The 48-year resident just wonders “why you put a 10-year surface on when you’re replacing the bridge in two years.”

Browns Bridge Road is an especially busy road, slated for eventual widening to four lanes between the Forsyth line and McEver Road.

According to DOT traffic counts, an average of some 12,500 cars travel daily on Ga. 369 at Pine Forest Road just east of the bridge on the Hall side, and 15,400 cars travel daily on Ga. 369 between Waldrip and Hidden Hills drives.

By comparison, nearly 24,000 cars travel daily on McEver Road, a major north-south artery in
West Hall, near Donna Way.

This month, a single lane has been closed overnights, or 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., for the bridge work. Those closures will continue every night through the end of the month, DOT district spokeswoman Katie Strickland has said.

Strickland said the project should be completed before the new year, weather-permitting.

The $28 million bridge replacement is set to go to construction in 2018.

“That is still dependent upon (the project being awarded to a contractor), and, of course, with any project we have an environmental document that must be executed,” Strickland said.

When it gets going, the project could take about two years to complete, she said.

The new two-lane, three-quarters-of-a-mile bridge will have two 12-foot lanes and 8-foot shoulders.

“With bridges, there are times of the year we cannot work due to endangered species restrictions,” Strickland said. “We usually have to contend with the migration of the Indiana bat and several other species of birds.”

Right of way acquisition is another issue.

The project only requires three parcels. One of them has been bought, but the other two are owned by the Army Corps of Engineers, “and we are still waiting on those,” Strickland said.

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