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Residents view maps, talk to engineers about new Dawsonville Highway bridge
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Gainesville resident Lee Luplow, center, looks at Mac Cranford P.E., a transportation engineer with RS&H, Inc., during a public meeting on plans by the Georgia Department of Transportation to replace Dawsonville Highway’s westbound bridge over the Chattahoochee River in Gainesville, on Thursday, Jan. 11, 2018. - photo by David Barnes

With plans showing the new Dawsonville Highway bridge 40 feet closer to their Lake Lanier home than the current bridge, Lawrence and Dot Floyd have more than a casual interest in the $28 million project.

“Our main concern is (the Georgia Department of Transportation) showing us how close it’s going to come to where we (are) and keeping the noise out,” Dot Floyd said.

“They have been very nice,” she added. “They have said that as the project gets a little further along, they would come out and meet with us.”

And that could be rather soon.

The DOT is looking to put out design-construction bids in March 2019, with construction possibly starting 6-9 months later, officials said at Thursday night’s public open house at Chestatee High School in northwest Hall County.

The project — replacing the Ga. 53 westbound structure over the Chattahoochee River arm of Lanier — would take about two years to complete, district spokeswoman Katie Strickland said.

The new bridge will be built northeast of the existing one, meaning the DOT “can maintain traffic on the current bridge” while the new bridge is being built, she said.

The project also calls for new Dawsonville Highway approaches to either side of the bridge.

The eastbound bridge will not be affected.

Several residents spent the evening looking at detailed aerial maps of the project and talking with DOT engineers.

Lee Luplow, who owns a self-storage business just off Ga. 53 at the eastbound bridge, said he would like to see the DOT restore the Ga. 53 entrance to his business as part of the bridge replacement.

In previous work, he said, the DOT took out a lane to turn right into his business. The driveway is still there, but stopping to turn there now can be hazardous.

“There have been several accidents. You got to step on your brakes (to make the turn) and anybody behind you either jams on their brakes or they have to move over,” Luplow said.

With millions being poured into the new bridge, he added, “they could put in couple hundred thousand and give me my (turn lane) back. What’s so hard about that? It’s a safety situation.”

DOT plans call for the nearly half-mile bridge to have two 12-foot travel lanes and an 8-foot wide outside shoulder. The westbound roadway approaching the bridge would have two 12-foot travel lanes, a 6-foot inside shoulder and a 10-foot outside shoulder, Strickland has said.

The current bridge was built in 1956, along with several other crossings on then-newly developed Lake Lanier.

The bridge underwent extensive work in 2016, as the DOT repaired the driving surface, repainted the structure and installed bridge joints — a $3 million project.

The Floyds, whose house sits on a hill overlooking the Chattahoochee, said they are just anxious to see what comes next.

“We can see the pictures (of the project), but it’s hard to know exactly how it’s all going to work out,” Dot Floyd said.

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