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The latest I-985 traffic hurdle at Exit 14 starts June 17
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Traffic passes under the new Exit 14 bridge Tuesday, April 16, 2019, as construction on the Martin Road interchange continues. - photo by Scott Rogers

The new off ramps at Exit 14 are about to get their first test, but it’s not to allow drivers to use the overpass.

The ramps will be used as part of a detour starting Monday while repairs to the bridge over Interstate 985 continue.

Northbound lanes on I-985 will be closed under the Exit 14 bridge on weeknights starting Monday through mid-July.

The lanes will be closed from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. on weeknights. Starting 1,500 feet before the exit, one lane of the interstate will be closed, according to Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Katie Strickland.

Drivers will use the exit’s entrance and exit ramps as a detour around the interstate lanes, Strickland said.

The closure will allow crews to hydroblast the bridge to remove portions of concrete from its driving surface.

The bridge in South Hall appeared to be done earlier this year, but then three of its four spans failed strength tests. The strength tests ensure that the concrete has reached full strength 28 days after it was poured.

Hydroblasting is the first phase of fixing the bridge. After the concrete on the bridge’s driving surface is removed, workers can then pour in new concrete. Brandon Kirby, district engineer for GDOT, has previously told The Times that lanes won’t have to be closed when the concrete is poured in.

But hydroblasting does require that traffic stay out of the area, he said.

“There could be (a concrete mixture) getting down on the roadway,” Kirby said. “We feel like there’s a good containment plan (in place), but just to eliminate the risk of anything hitting the vehicle, we want to take precautionary measures.”

Kirby said the bridge’s issues were with the materials, not the contractor.

“It wasn’t that the contractor didn’t do a good job pouring the bridge deck or that our technicians did a poor job inspecting the pour itself,” Kirby said.

Strickland has said that GDOT will not have to pay for the bridge to be corrected, avoiding shifting the cost to taxpayers.

The bridge will be the overpass for Exit 14, connecting Martin Road at Falcon Parkway/Ga. 13 on the east side of I-985 to H.F. Reed at Thurmon Tanner Parkway on the west side.

The $34 million project is set to be done Aug. 31.

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