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Social Circle bridge project several years away

SOCIAL CIRCLE -- A public meeting was held recently to inform drivers about a detour route that is not complete for a bridge project that is still several years away.

The Georgia Department of Transportation held a public meeting on Sept. 29 for residents in Social Circle to inform them that the bridge on Ga. Highway 11 over the CSX Railroad line will be replaced. During the construction of the new bridge, drivers will be directed to a detour.

Teri Pope, communications officer with District One with the Georgia Department of Transportation, said the public meeting held at Social Circle Middle School was required to inform people that a detour will be in place when the bridge is closed for repair. She said about 29 people attended that meeting.

"We are required by the federal government to do this before we can move into the next phase," Pope said.

According to documents from the DOT, the bridge over the CSX rail line in Social Circle, which was constructed in 1954, is "structurally deficient" and "functionally obsolete" and will need to be replaced.

The current bridge measures 151 feet with a deck width of 35.3 feet. The new bridge is to be 160 feet long and 44 feet wide.

While routine DOT inspection of the bridge indicates that it needs to be replaced (it's sufficiency rating is 46.76, below the Federal Highway Administration's minimum standard of a rating of 50), Pope said the bridge should cause no concern for drivers.

"Based on its ratings, the bridge has come into our program for work," she said. "It's perfectly fine right now, but it will need to be replaced in next five to eight years."

It will be some time before the bridge project is put out for bid and work gets under way. One of the roads on the detour route -- Charlotte Rowell Boulevard -- is not yet constructed, she said.

"We're at least -- at least -- two and a half years away from the bridge work," Pope said. "To finalize our plans, we had to by federal law let the community know this will be happening."

Pope said the DOT will return to Social Circle about three months prior to the beginning of the construction to inform citizens more specifically about the scope of the project, the detour routes and how long the project is expected to take.

Anyone with any questions can visit the Georgia Department of Transportation's website at http://www.dot.ga.gov/informationcenter/publicinformation/Pages/PublicOutreach.aspx