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Bridge repairs impacted due to federal cuts
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Federal cuts have delayed repairs to two heavily traveled bridges in Dawson County.

Transportation officials last year announced plans to replace the bridges over the Etowah River on Hwy. 136 and Hwy. 9 South, both of which are currently operational but with failing grades in accordance to state ratings.

"The two Dawson projects...are two out of five in northeast Georgia that are ready to begin right of way acquisition but are on hold due to lack of funds," said Teri Pope, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Right of way acquisition is complete to replace the bridge on Hwy. 9 that was scheduled to be let out for bids in March of 2015, but like the Hwy. 136 bridge, construction is on hold.

According to Pope, all states, including Georgia, will receive about 70 percent of the budgeted funds for the fiscal year.

"GDOT is strategically delivering design, right of way, and construction phases within the federal financially constrained limits," she said. "Congress will have to address federal funding before June 2015 and based on that outcome, GDOT will advance the projects that are on hold as funding allows."

While the bridge repairs are on hold, plans to begin construction on the state's first continuous flow intersection at Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53 are on track to begin in the spring.

"The contractor is getting ready - completing their paperwork, ordering materials and planning for equipment and staff," said Pope.

Similar in principle to diverging diamond interchanges like those now in place at some busy Interstate 85 and 285 interchanges, the project is designed to move left-turning vehicles out of traffic's main flow by using a series of access roads and longer left-turn lanes.

According to information released in a Georgia Department of Transportation video, motorists traveling on Ga. 400 would follow traffic signaling devices directing them to drive across the oncoming lanes into new lanes on the far left side of the road.

Construction is expected to take 18 months to complete and would be staged so as not to disrupt traffic.

Once complete, DOT predicts traffic congestion will be reduced by 85 percent.