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Bridge replacement plans aired
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State transportation officials outlined plans to replace the Etowah River bridge on Hwy. 136 north of Dawsonville during a public information meeting last week.

Construction is expected to take about nine months with land acquisition beginning in 2015, according to Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Teri Pope.

"The bridge was built in 1965 and does not meet current standards. For example there are no shoulders on the bridge," she said. "The new bridge will have 8-feet-wide shoulders on each side of the bridge, so if a car crash occurs or if there [a motorist] has a flat tire on the bridge, there is a safe place to move the car and get it out of the travel lanes."

At an estimated $1 million construction cost that will be funded by both federal and state gas funds, the new bridge will be 240 feet long and 40 feet wide, with 12-foot-wide lanes.

A proposed 10.8 mile detour that will use only state routes will be in place while the new bridge is constructed.

"Georgia DOT doesn't want to put extra wear and tear on local roads by directing state route traffic onto local roads. Local roads aren't designed to the standards of state routes," Pope said. "State routes are designed to carry the weight of tractor trailers, typically state routes are about 3 feet thick and can support the 80,000 pounds or 40 tons weight limit in Georgia."

The detour, she said, will allow construction to move faster and cost much less than if traffic continued to use the bridge while a parallel structure was built.

"The detour allows the work to be completed twice as fast and saves about $310,000," Pope said.

Project displays are available at the DOT District Office at 2505 Athens Hwy. in Gainesville.