Early work has started on the replacement of Boling Bridge at the Hall-Forsyth county line.
Katie Strickland, Georgia Department of Transportation district spokeswoman, said this week that crews “have started clearing, removing vegetation and grubbing.”
The $20 million project calls for replacing the bridge on Dawsonville Highway/Ga. 53 over the Chestatee River, which flows into Lake Lanier.
The new bridge will be built next to the old one, which will remain open during the project. The old bridge will be removed once traffic has been shifted to the new bridge.
The project, slated for a March 31, 2019, completion, was awarded in the spring to Scott Bridge Company Inc. of Opelika, Ala., but work couldn’t start until mid-fall because of wildlife concerns.
There’s “a provision in the contract of not disturbing bats until then,” said Michael Terrell, Scott Bridge senior vice president, earlier this year.
The contract says “all clearing of woody vegetation will occur outside of the summer activity period of the federally protected northern long-eared bat and Indiana bat.”
Another federally protected animal, the osprey, has been figured into the Boling Bridge project, with the DOT planning to build 30-foot-tall nesting platforms.
The upper beams of the current bridge’s overhead truss system have served for years as a favorite nesting spot for the fish-eating creatures.
The DOT has worked with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on the initiative.
Boling Bridge is one of several bridges over Lanier the state is looking to replace or has replaced.
Clarks Bridge on Clarks Bridge Road/Ga. 284 in Gainesville was the first to get a new, wider look in 2015.
Two bridges on Cleveland Highway/U.S. 129 also are scheduled for replacement — one crossing the Chattahoochee River and the other crossing East Fork Little River.
Earlier this year, DOT officials said right of way acquisition was underway on Browns Bridge, a much-photographed and distinctive green bridge spanning the Chattahoochee River at the Hall-Forsyth line.
Construction on the $28 million project could begin in 2018.