0517BRIDGEaudTim Rainey, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers operations project manager at Lake Lanier, talks about a new pedestrian bridge just south of Buford Dam.
Lower Pool East Park near the Buford Dam could open this weekend with the completion of a pedestrian bridge crossing the Chattahoochee River.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has kept the park closed since last year, after structural engineers deemed the old bridge unsafe.
“We got our use out of the bridge,” said Tim Rainey, the corps’ operations project manager at Lake Lanier, “It had just succumbed to wear and tear.”
Workers installed the $122,700 bridge last week with the aid of an 800-ton crane shipped to the site in 15 tractor-trailer trucks.
The crane had to be assembled before setting the new bridge — which came in two pieces — in place.
“It is quite an impressive site,” Rainey said of the effort as it was going on last week.
The bridge connects Lower Pool East to Lower Pool West park, which is open but doesn’t quite have the parking that Lower Pool East has.
Lower Pool East “had to remain closed to prevent people from parking in that area and crossing in the river to the Lower Pool West,” Rainey said.
Initially, the corps sought price estimates to repair the old bridge, which Rainey believes was installed in the early 1970s.
“We found out repairs would cost as much as it would to get a new bridge,” he said.
As to the slowness of getting a new one in place, he said, “Our acquisition process, unfortunately, takes about a year.”
The new bridge is very similar to the old one, with one key exception: it has concrete decking instead of wood decking.
“We’re happy to have (the new bridge) and happy it will be in use for this season,” Rainey said.