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Preliminary work on fourth Albany bridge coming in 2017

Georgia Department of Transportation Project Manager Roger Shelby talks to the stakeholders of the Community Advisory Committee about the proposed Clark Avenue extension that will put a fourth bridge linking East and West Albany over the Flint beginning in 2017.

Georgia Department of Transportation Project Manager Roger Shelby talks to the stakeholders of the Community Advisory Committee about the proposed Clark Avenue extension that will put a fourth bridge linking East and West Albany over the Flint beginning in 2017.

— Georgia Department of Transportation officials meeting with Albany’s Citizens Advisory Committee said Thursday preliminary construction work on a bridge spanning the Flint River connecting Clark Avenue in East Albany to Society Avenue in West Albany could start much sooner than once thought.

Initially put on GDOT’s long-range calendar, the project has been bumped up on the priority list with officials saying construction could start as early as 2017.

GDOT said rights-of-way acquisitions will likely run $18 million, with total

construction in the neighborhood of

$40 million, most of which would come in the form of federal funds with some local matching money. Typically, local matches are about 10 percent of the cost.

There’s no estimate on when the project would be completed.

The bridge would connect on the west side at Society Avenue, cross the Flint and loop to Clark Avenue.

Currently, Albany has three bridges connecting the eastern and western parts of town. The fourth bridge on Broad Avenue has been closed to traffic because it has been deemed unsafe for vehicles and pedestrians. That bridge is also in the planning stages for replacement.

Discussion on a fourth bridge started in 1999 and is an echo from the flood of 1994, Roger Shelby, the project manager for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said.

The new bridge would span the flood plain — the area around the river that the state believes would be inundated by water should another major flood occur — so that the situation that happened in 1994 where major parts of East and West Albany were disconnected would never happen again.

As for the Broad Avenue bridge, which has been closed for nearly two years, City Engineer Bruce Maples said that the city is still on target to let combined demolition and construction bids for that new bridge later this year.

Construction is likely to begin at some point in the spring, he said.

An extension of Clark Avenue from East Albany across the Flint has long been on the radar of planning officials.

Identified after the flood, the Dougherty Area Regional Transportation Study Metropolitan Planning Organization, or DARTS MPO, initially identified the project as a long-term goal to help ease traffic on the existing bridges and to serve as a contingency option in the event of another major flood so that residents on the eastside would have access to the city’s two hospitals, which are both on the west side of the river.

While the connector was initially viewed as a long-term project with construction dates likely a decade or more away, Shelby said DARTS shifted the region’s transportation priorities and bumped the project up on the list.

“We had plans to widen Oglethorpe Boulevard first, but the (DARTS) board viewed this bridge as a more pressing issue, so we’ve shifted funding away from the Oglethorpe project to the West Society project,” he said.

In 2002, the group met and viewed various options for the extension and chose West Society Avenue as the prime connecting point.

“By going that far north, you minimalize the impact on historical property, business and residential areas that are centered closer to downtown,” Shelby said. “So that would make this our prime option at this point.”

As planned, the West Society option would have the bridge built directly across the river from where the road presently ends, with the road then snaking south and connecting to Clark Avenue.

The next step in the process, GDOT officials say, is to gather public input and begin the environmental study portion of the project. If approved by state and federal officials, GDOT will then begin the architectural and design aspect of the project before moving ahead.

Secondary options include having the bridge connecting at Flint and Tift avenues, but each is viewed largely as unfeasible.

A document listed on the DARTS MPO website shows a slightly different path for the roadway and wildly different cost estimates.

That document suggests that rights-of-way purchases could top $19 million with construction costs estimated at more than $70 million.

That document also shows a different timetable, with rights-of-way negotiations set to start in 2012 and construction to begin at some point between 2021 and 2025.

Comments

TrixibelleBento 3 years, 1 month ago

I thought our immeidate need was to replace the Broad Avenue bridge? Do we really need this other bridge? I'm just asking. I don't really know. I wasn't aware that we had that much traffic to justify the costs.

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ontario1966 3 years, 1 month ago

You have got to be kidding! what a joke!

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SalukiGrad 3 years, 1 month ago

Wise money would be spent scrapping the Broad AVE bridge, Repairing and widening the Oglethorpe Bridge, and saving money for a 4th bridge that can be paid for up front without a loan, but that would be responsible government.

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TamewRod 3 years ago

What's "imfeasible"? And that's an odd place to put a bridge: it's a very low traffic area and it will destroy the one spot on the riverfront trail where people can actually see the river. This city makes some weird decisions.

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J.D._Sumner 3 years ago

Tame and Saluki, did you folks actually read the story? It's a GDOT project funded by a mix of federal, state and local dollars. Who said anything about a loan or the city choosing the location? DARTS and GDOT chose the location, not the city commission.

And you mean to tell me that, on a two mile trail along a river, you can't find more than one place to see the river? Nuts.

As stated above, the choice of locations was based on a multitude of reasons, not the least of which was the minimal risk of interference with existing private businesses and residential property.

As for the Broad Ave bridge, as stated above bids for tearing it down and building a replacement are set to go out later this year.

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BettyR 2 years, 10 months ago

JD in the summer you cannot see the Flint from the waling trail except at a small overlook. The spot by the Broad Ave. Bridge is the best for viewing.

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wilson 3 years ago

JD, Federal, State, Local; it doesn't matter it is still TAXpayer dollars. I think the point is "do we have a real need for a $40 million dollar bridge"? Broad Avenue has been closed for years and we've managed so what is the compelling reason for a new bridge? This project like so many is an example of the self perpetuation of government, in this case the DOT. We're broke we can't afford non-essential projects, programs, agencies, benefits, handouts, etc.etc.

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