With the new year comes a major bridge project in Jackson County
The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to close the bridge over the Middle Oconee River on Galilee Church Road for demolition and construction of a new bridge.
The bridge, which is 3.7 miles southwest of Jefferson, will close Jan. 2 and reopen within nine months, according to the DOT.
State officials said the original bridge has outlived its life expectancy and does not meet current design standards.
The new bridge will improve safety and efficiency, as the project calls for raising the structure to remove a dip in the road approaching the bridge.
“The new bridge features wide shoulders creating a refuge for motorists outside of the travel lanes if needed,” a DOT press release stated.
While the bridge is closed, a signed detour will be in place directing traffic along Galilee Church Road to U.S. 129/Ga. 11/Damon Gause Bypass to Ga. 11/Winder Highway and back to Galilee Church Road.
Closing the bridge allowed the work to be completed in half the time — 12 months instead of 24 — and at a savings of about $1 million less than keeping the existing bridge open while a new parallel bridge is built. The $1.5 million project also includes nearly one-quarter mile of new roadway.
The new bridge will be 285 feet long and 38 feet wide and will feature two 11-foot travel lanes and 6-foot shoulders.
Rogers Bridge Co. of Atlanta is the contractor.
Union County gets money to make local improvements
Union County has received $465,880 for local road improvements. Sole Commissioner Lamar Paris received the check, which will help pay for roadwork as part of the DOT’s Local Maintenance and Improvements Grant program.
As many as 700 Georgia counties and cities will be applying to Georgia DOT for LMIG grants in fiscal 2013, which ends June 30.
The department is expected disburse about $110 million in LMIG funds based on population and miles of local streets and roads in each jurisdiction.
In a major improvement to the program this year, the DOT is giving the entire amount of the grant to the local governments as soon as their applications are approved, instead of over time as projects are completed.
Road construction eases during holidays
As part of its usual operations around major holidays, the DOT is suspending construction-related lane closures on all interstates and major state routes through midnight Jan. 1. The closures began at 5 p.m. Friday.
“Incident management or emergency maintenance-related lane closures could become necessary on any route,” a DOT news release stated.
The DOT “reminds travelers to exercise caution nonetheless, as heavy holiday traffic is expected throughout the state,” the release said. “Crews may still be working and heavy equipment may remain staged in close proximity to highways, and safety concerns may require some long-term lane closures remain in place.”
During the holidays, officials advise motorists to check maps on www.georgia-navigator.com for current road conditions or call 511 on any phone for free, real-time traffic information.
Traveler information is also available at www.511ga.org and, for callers outside the state, at 1-877-694-2511.
For those preparing to fly, 511 connects callers to airports in Atlanta and Savannah for information on parking, delays or connections to carriers.
An automated voice recognition system guides the service, but callers can also reach live operators to report accidents or congestion, request Highway Emergency Response Operators program assistance or obtain additional information.
Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: