Clarks Bridge Road reopened to through traffic this morning, one day earlier than expected.
Crews were removing detour signs as of 9 a.m. after the road reopened at 8:45 a.m.
There was still much to be finished as of Thursday afternoon, said Harold Mull, district construction engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation, on Thursday, so the exact time for opening the road was a moving target.
“Crews worked late last night and were on the project at daybreak today to finish the necessary work,” Mull said this morning.
Crews finished paving the road Thursday and then had to stripe the road and install signs and a barrier wall around a pedestrian tunnel being built near Clarks Bridge, Mull said.
The road had been closed since May 27 between U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway in Clermont and U.S. 129/Limestone Parkway in Gainesville for construction of the tunnel, which will go under Ga. 284/Clarks Bridge Road at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue.
The road’s grade also had to be raised by 3 feet to accommodate the concrete tunnel.
The tunnel is part of an overall $8.7 million project to replace the 56-year-old Clarks Bridge, which spans the Chattahoochee River on Lake Lanier.
The project is set to be completed by Dec. 31, 2015.
Mull said the speed limit will be lowered to 35 mph on Ga. 284 because work is ongoing in the area and driveways to the parking areas aren’t finished yet.
Also, “there is still a lot to do to make the tunnel ready for use,” DOT district spokeswoman Teri Pope has said. “Two retaining walls must be built, then sidewalks poured to connect the tunnel to the parking areas and beach or building.
“Then, electricity has be to run to the area and the lighting installed.”
There were some concerns about reopening the road by Saturday, the target to end the detour.
Recent bad weather had slowed progress on the tunnel, with crews “working diligently around the rain to reopen” the road, Pope said.
Earlier this month, workers began setting beams for the bridge. Each beam is about 136 feet long, 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs about 70 tons.
Until the road reopens, motorists can follow the DOT’s detour, which involves only state-maintained routes: Clarks Bridge Road, Cleveland Highway, U.S. 129/Limestone Parkway and Ga. 52/Brookton-Lula Road.
There are several local connections between Clarks Bridge Road and Cleveland Highway, including Lakeland and Honeysuckle roads.