State officials announced Monday that E.R. Snell Contractor of Snellville has been awarded an $8.7 million contract to replace the 55-year-old Clarks Bridge on Ga. 284/Clarks Bridge Road at Lake Lanier.
Work is expected to start this spring or summer, with completion set for Dec. 31, 2015, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
The new two-lane bridge will feature bike lanes, sidewalks and a 63-foot pedestrian tunnel.
Officials have said the new bridge will be 952 feet long, nearly 50 feet wide and have five columns in Lake Lanier. Bike lanes and sidewalks will run along Ga. 284 for 2,781 feet.
All totaled, the bridge and approaches to the structure will run for more than a half-mile.
The current bridge, built in 1958, is 834 feet long and nearly 24 feet wide.
“This project is more than a bridge for vehicles; it is a multimodal structure,” said Bayne Smith, the DOT’s Northeast Georgia district engineer.
The new bridge also will serve visitors to Clarks Bridge Park and the site of the 1996 Olympics rowing and canoe and kayak venue.
“I’m really glad they’ve been able to move ahead with (the project),” said John Ferriss, president of the Lake Lanier Rowing Club. “It’ll be a huge enhancement when it’s finished.
“I know there’ll be some inconvenience (during construction), but we’ll figure out how to deal with it.”
Officials have said the new bridge would be built next to the existing bridge, so traffic can flow normally during construction.
The bridge will be closed for about 60 days toward the end of the project, so that workers can build the approaches and the tunnel connecting Clarks Bridge Park and the Lake Lanier Rowing Club/Lanier Canoe and Kayak Club’s boathouse to the venue and boat ramps.
The detour will involve motorists taking U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway to Ga. 284 in Clermont and then south toward the bridge, officials have said.
Several roads, such as Honeysuckle Road, Lakeview Street and Lakeland Road, connect the two arteries, but “we don’t divert state route traffic onto a local road,” said regional DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope in an interview last year.
She couldn’t be reached for comment Monday.
Officials have talked about the bridge replacement for several years, and at one point, eyed construction taking place in 2015-16.
State Rep. Carl Rogers, R-Gainesville, particularly called for the project to happen sooner rather than later.
“This bridge was slated to be replaced three or four years ago,” he said in an April 2011 interview. “The former DOT commissioner put it on the shelf. ... With all the activities on the water and the age and old design (of the bridge), (the project) needs to be done.”