The Georgia Department of Transportation will continue to review and solicit comments regarding a planned bridge replacement project in Stephens County.
Thursday, DOT officials held an open house at the historic Stephens County Courthouse in downtown Toccoa.
The open house was to solicit comments on the planned replacement of the State Route 184/Prather Bridge Road Bridge over Toccoa Creek and the accompanying detour that will be necessary.
The DOT plans to build a completely new bridge in the same spot where the current bridge sits, Spokesperson Teri Pope said.
“We are going to close the road and demolish the bridge and build a new bridge right there in its place,” said Pope. “Doing it this way will allow us to build the bridge about twice as fast as normal and we will save about $500,000.”
Some of the comments received from the public during Thursday’s public hearing centered on the project scope and the increased travel time as a result of the detour, DOT Project Manager Brandon Kirby said.
While the bridge is built and the road is closed, the proposed detour of nearly 5.5 miles would take drivers heading north from State Route 184 to Highview Road, then to Old Rothell Road and eventually onto Camp Mikell Road before getting back onto State Route 184.
It would be the opposite for drivers heading south on State Route 184.
Kirby called this detour the “viable option” for the project compared to building a bridge alongside the current bridge or detouring traffic through South Carolina.
“We are hoping to have the detour in place less than six months (once construction starts),” said Kirby.
According to Kirby, construction could start in mid-2015.
Even though the open house is over, the public can still view the displays of the project at the Georgia DOT Area Office located at 301 Conger Road in Carnesville.
Also, the DOT said the plans will also be available online at the DOT website at www.dot.ga.gov.
On the home page choose “Information Center” next choose “Public Outreach” and select the project’s County and choose go. A list of DOT projects in that County will appear and you can select the one you’d like to view. Newer projects are at the bottom of the project list.
Once all the comments are in, the DOT will compile them and work to address any they can, especially any common themes that arise, said Kirby.
“We want to make sure we listen to anything that the public says and try to minimize the concerns,” said Kirby.
The bridge on State Route 184 being replaced is about 3.5 miles northeast of Toccoa.
The current bridge was built back in 1940 and does not meet current design standards, said Pope.
“It does not have any shoulders,” said Pope. “If you were to run out of gas, there is nowhere to get out of the travel lane.
As a result, the DOT is building a new bridge that will be the same length, but wider thanks to 8 foot wide shoulders on both sides of the bridge, Pope said.