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Clarks Bridge replacement a step closer to starting
DNR allows access to property for the project
Traffic crosses busy Clarks Bridge on Monday. Construction of a replacement bridge could get under way later this year. - photo by Tom Reed

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Construction is many months away, but activity is starting to swirl around a planned new bridge that will be built on Clarks Bridge Road at Lake Lanier.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources has agreed to let the state Department of Transportation have temporary access to its property for the project.

Hall County has developed an agreement with the DOT to maintain the lights in a pedestrian tunnel that will be built as part of the project.

The tunnel will run under Clarks Bridge Road, connecting Clarks Bridge Park and Lake Lanier Rowing Club/Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club's boathouse to the Olympic venue and boat ramps.

Also, at Thursday's Gainesville City Council work session, Matt Tarver, project manager in the public utilities department, is set to discuss a project involving three 16-inch utility lines on the new bridge, replacing the 8-inch line that's on the current crossing.

"It's easier to put the lines on there while the bridge is being built than it is to put them on an existing structure," Tarver said Monday.

He added that he plans to work up cost estimates before the council's meeting.

The only remaining right of way needed for the project is owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the department's Gainesville office.

The corps is "reviewing our plans ... and (the DOT doesn't) have a timeline for completion of those negotiations," she said.

The DOT also is "waiting on the final design plans for lighting the pedestrian tunnel," Pope said. "A consultant is working on them and they are due back in time to make the June letting."

The hope is to award the project to a contractor this summer with construction starting in the fall. The project's cost is estimated at $7.1 million. Once started, the work will take up to three years to complete.

The exact nature of the project and how it might affect traffic won't be determined until later, Pope has said.

"That's part of the bidding process," she said. "The people who bid on it decide the best way to build (the bridge). That would be part of the review process."

The current two-lane bridge, which serves as a major North Hall artery, was built in 1958 and is 834 feet long and nearly 24 feet wide.

The bridge has a sufficiency rating of 41.34 on a 0-100 scale. At 50, a bridge is considered structurally deficient. At 40, it begins to work its way into replacement plans, according to the DOT.

State Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, pushed last year for the bridge to take priority in terms of replacement.

"With all the activities on the water and the age and old design (of the bridge), (the project) needs to be done," he said in an interview last year.