Summertime travel on Ga. 284/Clarks Bridge Road is about to get a little tricky for some motorists.
Beginning May 27, Ga. 284 from Clermont south to the Lake Lanier Olympic Venue will be closed to through traffic, allowing for construction of an underground pedestrian tunnel at the venue.
The road segment is set to reopen by July 26, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Ga. 284’s grade must be raised by 3 feet to accommodate the new concrete tunnel, which will be 10 feet wide, 8 feet high and 63 feet long.
“Traffic cannot continue to flow in as crews change the grade” and build the tunnel, stated a DOT news release issued Wednesday.
Motorists will be able to reach the venue by traveling north on Ga. 284 from U.S. 129/Limestone Parkway, as the bridge will remain open. To access the parking and boat ramps at Clarks Bridge Park, vehicles must travel Ga. 284 northbound.
The DOT’s detour route has been set, involving Ga. 284, U.S. 129/Cleveland Highway and Ga. 52/Brookton-Lula Road.
The road closure is taking place in the summer so as not to affect school travel, DOT district spokeswoman Teri Pope said.
Venue director Morgan House said he didn’t “see any problems at all” with the road change.
“It might be a little inconvenient for people coming in from the north, but it’s really not going to be a big deal,” he said. “The overall outcome of the project is going to greatly outweigh all the inconveniences that we may have to go through for a few weeks.”
The tunnel “is going to make a huge difference for when we hold large events,” House said. “When we have a large number of athletes going back and forth from the tower to the boathouse side, now we’ll no longer have to have a police officer there directing traffic.
“That will greatly reduce the slowing of traffic jams during our events. Safety is the big thing.”
The other big attraction off Clarks Bridge Road is Don Carter State Park, which is at 5000 N. Browning Bridge Road, north of the venue.
Will Wagner, park manager, said the park already directs out-of-area visitors, particularly those in large vehicles such as RVs, to take Ga. 365 to Ga. 52.
“That’s a significant number of our guests,” he said. “Another large chunk is coming from (northern counties), so it won’t affect them.”
Day users from Gainesville and other places south of the park will have to find another route than Ga. 284 northbound.
“Whenever there’s change such as this, it will affect us a little bit,” Wagner said, “but it’s nothing that has really concerned us too much, as we’ve known about it since before the park opened (last summer).”
The tunnel construction is part of a larger $8.7 million project that involves replacing Clarks Bridge, which was built in 1958 and, officials have said, does not meet current design standards.
Drilling has started on the 10th and 11th of 12 caissons for the bridge crossing the Chattahoochee River, which feeds into Lanier, “but with rain expected (today, we’re) probably not pouring until next week,” Pope said.
The caissons — 5 1/2 to 6 1/2 feet in diameter — are being drilled down to bedrock, or depths up to 110 feet. Once secured, they will be connected by a horizontal structure.
When completed, the new bridge will have 12-foot lanes and an 8-foot shoulder in each direction.
The project is set for completion by Dec. 31, 2015.