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New northbound bridge on Thompson Bridge Road, I-985 widening study get early approval
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Replacement of the northbound bridge on Thompson Bridge Road/Ga. 60 over the Chattahoochee River in North Hall could begin by 2024.

New road and bridge projects, including a new bridge on Thompson Bridge Road/Ga. 60 over the Chattahoochee River, took a step toward approval on Wednesday.

A technical committee of state, county and city road officials recommended the $12.8 million bridge replacement over the Chattahoochee in North Hall for adoption into the Hall County area’s 25-year regional transportation plan.

Only the northbound lane of the bridge would be replaced during construction, which is expected to begin in 2024 using mostly federal transportation cash. The northbound bridge was built in the 1950s, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation, while the southbound bridge was built in the 1990s.

The group also recommended two road-widening projects. The first is only an engineering study of widening I-985 from I-85 to Ga. 53.The study would begin in 2019 and is estimated to cost $2.7 million.

GDOT is looking to widen almost 16 miles of I-985, according to spokeswoman Katie Strickland. The project is in “baby, baby steps,” she said, and is “in the very initial” stages.

The state is hoping to expedite the work, which would take the build time down from seven years to only two, she said.

The other project in South Hall would widen Old Winder Highway/Ga. 211 from Friendship Road/Ga. 347 to Ga. 124 in Barrow County. The state-funded project could begin construction in 2022 and would cost less than $400,000.

Road officials also recommended a project to build a new bridge over the Norfolk Southern Railroad near Tumbling Creek Road.

The work is estimated to cost almost $5 million and is funded by the state, Hall County, Oakwood and Gainesville.

Construction could begin in 2018, according to civil engineer Denise Farr.

“The county doesn’t have right of way at present,” Farr told The Times on Wednesday. “We’ve had some approval — there are so many things we have to have approved by the railroad, we have some of that — but not everything approved.”

Farr noted the county is working to finish plans for needed rights of way, and if its plans line up with the railroad, construction could begin “as early as early 2018” on the bridge serving Mundy Mill Road.

“We’re connecting the Old Oakwood Road and Millside Parkway, which runs right into Mundy Mill,” Farr said. “There’s residential development there, so it gives them another way to get to 985 through Atlanta Highway.”

Purchasing the rights of way is estimated to cost $400,000, and Farr noted some of the land needed for the work will be donated.

There’s no bridge on the road for now. Tumbling Creek Road dead-ends at the rail line. Construction is expected to last about a year.

The projects were recommended by the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s Technical Coordinating Committee, a group of engineers, planners and city managers who review projects before they’re considered by the Policy Committee.

The Policy Committee is scheduled to meet on Aug. 8, when it will vote on whether to add the four projects into the regional transportation plan.

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