The Georgia Department of Transportation’s “deferral” to award a contract last week in the much-anticipated Cleveland Bypass project may have signaled alarm for those following the project.
After all, at a public information meeting at White County High School on April 24, all seemed to be in order for the work.
“People were very excited about construction starting,” said Teri Pope, a DOT spokeswoman, at the time. “They also were very disappointed that it wasn’t on the entire bypass.”
But, Pope said, the DOT put off the work because of environmental concerns that need to be ironed out, including paperwork that needs to be completed for the state Environmental Protection Division.
Two outstanding items involved securing a “stream buffer variance.”
The EPD “has our erosion control plans and (is) reviewing them now,” Pope said. “Once those are approved, GDOT will get the variance.”
And the DOT is buying needed stream buffer mitigation credits.
“Once these are completed, EPD will sign off on the project, then we will issue a notice of intent and can award the project to a contractor,” Pope said. “Our goal is to award the project in about three weeks.”
This is the second round of review with EPD, “which is normal, especially in an area as sensitive and complicated as the foothills in White County,” she added.
“We knew the time frame for approval would be close, but we hoped to finish this review and approval process before the bidding time frame.”
The apparent low bid on the project is $16.7 million, submitted by Sunbelt Structures of Tucker.
Plans call for the four-lane road to run from U.S. 129 at Hope Drive around the west side of Cleveland to Ga. 115, a 1.9-mile stretch.
A second phase of the project calls for the road to run from Ga. 115 to U.S. 129 at Hulsey Road, or about two miles. The third, 1.1-mile phase would connect to Ga. 75 “on the north side of town, headed closer to Helen,” Pope said.
Phase two is estimated to cost $21 million and phase three, $9.7 million.
“We do not have construction funds set up for either of those two phases,” Pope said.
Information meeting set on bridge projects
A meeting is set for 5-7 p.m. May 22 at Little Mill Middle School in Forsyth County on three Ga. 369 bridge replacement projects.
The bridges are on Two Mile Creek, Six Mile Creek and the Chattahoochee River portion of Lake Lanier.
Little Mill Middle is at 6800 Little Mill Road off Ga. 369/Browns Bridge Road.
“We do have some displays to show to the public (concerning the projects),” DOT preconstruction engineer Robert Mahoney said at last week’s meeting of the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization.
Jeff Gill covers transportation issues for The Times. Share your thoughts, news tips and questions with him: