Sixty-nine people turned out last Thursday evening at Oconee Veterans Park to learn about and express an opinion on the proposed replacement bridge for SR 186 over the Apalachee River at High Shoals.
Those who attended the two-hour open house were presented with two alternate plans for the bridge replacement.
The existing bridge would be removed during construction, necessitating a 15.8 mile detour route for SR 186 from Good Hope in Walton County to Bishop in Oconee County.
A second alternative is to construct a new bridge just upstream from the existing bridge, which would remain in use during construction.
Open House Format
The two-hour open house did not include a formal presentation.
Attendees were given a handout when they entered the room at the Community Center in Oconee Veterans Park and directed toward two sets of four maps on easels along the wall of the room.
Representatives of the Georgia Department of Transportation and its consultant, Moffatt And Nichol of Atlanta, were standing at the maps ready to answer questions.
The handout given attendees also included a single page Comment Card that could be folded and inserted in a box at a table in the room.
The Comment Card asked the attendee if she or he supported “the project and detour as presented?”
North High Shoals Council
Most of the information provided in the sheet had been presented to local officials, including representatives of North High Shoals, at a meeting on Jan. 9.
The North High Shoals Council voted at its meeting in February to communicate to the Georgia Department of Transportation that it favors the second alternate, Mayor Toby Bradberry told me at the Open House.
Bradberry said that the primary concern of the Council is the inconvenience of the detour necessitated by the first alternate preferred by GDOT.
Bradberry said that Council also is asking GDOT to consider ways to make the bridge itself, regardless of which alternate is chosen, attractive to the surrounding area.
Problems With Current Bridge
The current bridge over the Apalachee was built in 1958 and consists of 13 spans of reinforced concrete deck girders on concrete caps with concrete columns, the handout presented at the March 7 open house states.
|Aerial View Of Detour|
The bridge is below current standards, according to the document.
“A structural analysis shows a lower than expected carrying capacity in the superstructure and substructure of this bridge,” the handout states.
The bridge has an unknown foundation and a poor superstructure, according to the handout.
“Replacement of this 59-year-old bridge is recommended,” the document says.
The existing 468-foot long bridge that has no shoulders is to be replaced with a 500-foot long bridge with 12 foot travel lanes and shoulders on each side of eight feet.
Moffatt and Nichol and GDOT are recommending that the existing bridge be replaced with one at roughly the identical location.
Only two parcels will be impacted, and only one of those will require displacement of the owner.
An estimated 144 linear feet of stream will be impacted.
The project will take 15 months to complete at a cost of $7.1 million.
The downside is that the bridge will be closed, necessitating the detour.
The second alternative, which calls for building a replacement bridge just upstream from the existing bridge, impacts five parcels, with two displacements.
The newly located bridge will impact 372 linear feet of stream.
It also will have an as yet unspecified impact on the cultural resources of the area. The location of the new bridge would disturb a designated historical area.
The project would take 21 months to complete at a cost of $7.5 million.
This alternative would not require any detour as the existing SR 186 would remain open during construction.
GDOT and its consultants are accepting comments on the bridge alternatives through March 21.
These can be provided online, through a series of steps.
2. Scroll down the page and select Oconee County from the box menu and hit Go.
3. A list of project appears below in yellowish green. Select SR 186 over the Apalachee River and click on it.
4. The maps and documents passed out at the March 7 meeting appear.
5. Just above the documents is a Comment option. Clicking on it opens a comment box.
This is not the same as the Comment Card shown on the last page of the handout passed out at the March 7 meeting.
The open house lasted two hours. I shot video at several times and edited what I shot into the very short video below to give a sense of the meeting.
The count of 69 attendees is the official tally by the GDOT representatives handing out the materials at the entrance to the open house.
An additional 11 representatives of GDOT and its consultants were in attendance.
Click on any of the four maps above to enlarge it.