Look for a story about construction and improvement of area bridges.
A North Hall County bridge project that had been put on hold recently because of concerns about the route is moving forward again with just tweaks to the original plans.
Area officials had wondered if the new bridge on Cleveland Highway/U.S. 129 over the Chattahoochee River would have more impact on residents on the right side of the current Longstreet Bridge heading north, as planned, than the left side.
But a meeting with the Georgia Department of Transportation revealed “there’d be more of an impact if you moved it to the left side,” Gainesville Mayor Danny Dunagan said.
For one thing, the left-side route “would have taken out about seven or eight houses in Sunset Heights because of the road realignment” at the bridge, he said.
Another obstacle would have been getting Army Corps of Engineers property on the left side. “It’s not being used as a federal park, it’s grown up — its weeds are higher than I am — and there’s a guardrail in front of it … but we’d have to go through all this rigmarole to get the corps to release it,” Dunagan said.
Also, the DOT already owns much of the right of way needed for the $13.2 million project as currently drawn, he said.
In addition to the new two-lane bridge, the work involves realigning Cleveland Highway approaches to the bridge. Work on the entire project could start before mid-2017.
The DOT has agreed to add a turn lane into Old River Pointe subdivision, which is on the right side of Cleveland Highway at the bridge.
“The subdivision sign is sitting on the DOT right of way,” Dunagan said. “If the homeowners association will move the sign, the DOT will help them try to find a place to put that sign once construction starts.”
Sparking the whole issue was a need for the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Policy Committee to amend transportation plans reflecting an increase in right of way costs from $749,700 to nearly $1.2 million.
“These increased funds will come from federal and state sources,” said Sam I. Baker, the MPO’s senior transportation planner.
The MPO is Hall’s lead transportation planning agency, and the policy committee is its decision-making body.