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Residents can learn about new bridge at event
New bridge to be built next to old
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The Georgia Department of Transportation has scheduled a public hearing for Tuesday at Chestatee High School on the replacement of the Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway bridge at the Hall-Forsyth County line. - photo by Tom Reed

Bridge hearing

What: Replacement of Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway bridge over Chestatee River near Hall-Forsyth County line
When: 5-7 p.m. Tuesday
Where: Chestatee High School, 3005 Sardis Road, Gainesville
Noteworthy: Anyone unable to attend the public information open house may send comments to Glenn Bowman, State Environmental Administrator, Georgia DOT, 600 W. Peachtree St., 16th Floor, Atlanta, GA 30308.

Hall and Forsyth County residents can get their first look Tuesday at a new bridge that will connect the two counties.

The Georgia Department of Transportation plans to hold an open house meeting on the replacement of the Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway bridge over the Chestatee River part of Lake Lanier at the Hall-Forsyth County line.

The open house is set for 5-7 p.m. Tuesday in the cafeteria at Chestatee High School, 3005 Sardis Road, in northwest Hall County.

DOT engineers and consultants will be available to discuss the proposals. No formal presentation is planned, said Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the DOT's District 1 office in Gainesville.

Comments can be accepted in writing until Dec. 23.
After the open house, plans and handouts can be viewed at the Georgia DOT Area Office at 2594 Gillsville Highway or at the Georgia DOT District Office at 2505 Athens Highway, both in Gainesville.

"This is the first meeting to bring the plan to the community and show them what the (new) bridge will look like," she said.

The DOT decided to go forward with replacement based on the bridge's sufficiency rating, a measurement of its structural soundness.

Right-of-way acquisition is set for fiscal year 2014, which begins July 1, 2013, and construction is scheduled for fiscal 2015, which begins July 1, 2014.

"The project is not part of a proposed widening project (for Ga. 53)," Pope said. "We don't know when that might happen."

"The new bridge will be built alongside the existing bridge, so construction won't impact traffic at all," Pope said.

Also, "it will not be an overhead truss system," she said. "It will be a conventional concrete bridge."

Once the new bridge is built and the roadway on either side is tied into it, the old bridge will be demolished, Pope said.

Many of Lake Lanier's bridges are starting to wear out, as they were built in the 1950s, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built the lake.

The Ga. 53 bridge over the Chestatee River was built in 1959.

Elsewhere, work is planned next year to repair the driving surface on the westbound Jerry Jackson Bridge on Ga. 53/Dawsonville Highway and the Ga. 369 bridge at the Hall-Forsyth county line.

Also in the works is a plan to replace an aging two-lane bridge over Lake Lanier at Clarks Bridge Park.

That project also features construction of a pedestrian tunnel under Clarks Bridge Road.

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