WALKER COUNTY, Ga. -- The Georgia Department of Transportation will close the state Route 136 bridge over West Chickamauga Creek on Oct. 16 so it can be replaced with a bigger, stronger bridge -- ideally in about nine months.
"They're shooting, weather permitting, to be completed by the end of July," transportation department spokesman Mohamed Arafa said.
Under terms of the contract, Talley Construction Co. Inc. of Rossville has a full year to get the $1.7 million project built, he said.
"We're widening [the bridge] and raising it about three feet," transportation department project manager Shirley Bowman said. "We'll have 61/2-foot shoulders," Bowman said, much wider than the bridge's current shoulders, which are "probably about 2 foot -- if that much."
During construction, traffic will be detoured onto state Routes 341 and 193.
The new bridge's six beams will be fabricated off-site from prestressed concrete. To support the beams, workers will drill down to bedrock and place three sets of six columns, according to construction plans. The columns won't stand in the creek; they'll be in the flood plain.
The transportation department inspects bridges every two years. It found the existing bridge to be both structurally deficient and functionally obsolete, Arafa said.
"It's still safe," Arafa said. "It needs replacement rather than repair."
The bridge must be sturdy enough to handle heavy traffic.
"State Route 136 is a truck route," Bowman said. "That's how they get from Dade County back to the interstate."
School bus driver Joan Hale uses the 136 bridge as she takes special education students to and from school in LaFayette, Ga.
"It doesn't bother me," Hale said of the bridge replacement. "I'll just reroute my route to where I can pick them up at my regular time."
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.