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Eyes on the Road: Concrete work nearly complete for new tunnel
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All the concrete needed for the pedestrian tunnel at the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue off Ga. 284/Clarks Bridge Road should be poured by Friday.

From there, “it takes at least 30 days for the concrete to cure to strength needed to support the roadway and traffic,” said Teri Pope, district spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

“About half the time of the detour (in place for the work) is for concrete to cure,” she said.

Because of the tunnel’s construction, the DOT has closed Ga. 284 to through traffic between U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway in Clermont and U.S. 129/Limestone Parkway in Gainesville.

The road is set to reopen July 26.

The DOT’s detour 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.

After the concrete cures, “the grade of the roadway over the tunnel will be set, roadway paved and sidewalks built,” Pope said.

The tunnel is part of an overall $8.7 million project to replace the 56-year-old Clarks Bridge, which doesn’t meet current design standards.

Concerning the bridge, crews spent June 13 pouring the last cap, or horizontal structure between vertical caissons.

Crews now are driving steel H-shaped bearing piles for footings that will support the new bridge.

“This is a very loud operation, as steel pile is driven down to a maximum depth of 56 feet,” Pope said.

The DOT expects to start setting the bridge beams in early July.

The entire project is set for completion by Dec. 31, 2015.

Road planning group seeks public input from surveys

Area residents can take a survey as part of the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s plans to update the region’s long-range transportation plan.

Survey results will help “provide additional input and assist in developing goals, recommendations and projects that reflect our community’s desires,” said Sam I. Baker, the MPO’s senior transportation planner.

The survey can be found at

Because Hall County is part of an air quality nonattainment area, it must update its long-term plan every four years.

The current document, the 2040 Metropolitan Transportation Plan, was released in August 2011. The update must be completed by August 2015.

In addition to concerns about federal funding, officials also have more territory to cover in the plan update. As a result of 2010 census numbers, the MPO’s boundaries have grown to include a part of West Jackson County, particularly the Braselton area, which includes a stretch of Interstate 85.

Also, the MPO will need to consider an updated bicycle and pedestrian plan and a long-term Gainesville transportation plan, with both efforts completed over the past year.

The MPO held the first of several public meetings June 5 on the plan.

Other public hearings are set for Aug. 18 and Nov. 13, and an open house will take place in January.

Then, the plan is set to go before the MPO’s policy committee — a decision-making body comprising the area’s top elected officials — on March 10 for final OK.

The document needs to be completed before August 2015 so the Atlanta Regional Commission can factor in Hall’s plans as part of air quality requirements, officials have said.

Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: