GAINESVILLE – "Crossing a bridge when you come to it" might not only be prudent life-advice, it will soon be something more easily accomplished at one thorny location in Gainesville.
Thanks to the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Quick Response Project Program the narrow bridge on State Route 13 (also known as Atlanta Highway) that spans Flat Creek will soon become pedestrian friendly.
GDOT’s Quick Response Project Program addresses transportation needs such as restriping, intersection improvements, turn lane additions and extensions that can be accomplished in a short period of time and for less than $200,000.
About a year ago Hall County Commissioner Jeff Stowe said he was in communication with the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization (GHMPO) about the dangerous situation on Atlanta Highway where pedestrian traffic was faced with crossing the creek by having to use the vehicular travel lanes.
There is no sidewalk at that location and steel guardrails within inches of the traffic lanes inhibit convenient travel across the bridge. According to Stowe he occasionally sees mothers pushing baby strollers in a frenzied 20-yard dash to cross the span before approaching traffic enters that space.
This week SueAnne Decker, GDOT District 1 Preconstruction Engineer, announced at the quarterly GHMPO meeting, that that stretch of state highway meets the criteria for the Quick Response Project Program.
“We’ll be putting a raised sidewalk across the culvert, moving the lane over and utilizing some of the center turn lane,” Decker told GHMPO members. “It’s not going to affect the turn lanes into the businesses too terribly much…(but) there’s no way to accommodate the widening that we need to do and not affect them some.”
GDOT Media and Government Relations Liaison Natalie Dale said in a follow-up interview, “When you think of a project like this it requires no additional right-of-way; there’s no environmental impact.”
“By working with the local MPO we were able to get the ball rolling on this,” she added. “There are very specific…thresholds that have to be met.”
“There is a lot of foot traffic, a lot of walking congestion, in this area,” Dale said. “This came to us as the result of a fall that occurred. Hopefully this will be able to meet the demand and provide that safe crossing that is needed at this location.”
And, Dale commented, the GDOT Quick Response Program demonstrates that transportation work in the state doesn’t always move at a snail’s pace. “Projects seem to take a long time to the traveling public…but we do have the capability and the flexibility in certain circumstances to use this Quick Response format to get a project programmed, designed and out-the-door much faster than a typical project.”
Dale added that because of spatial limitations on the 36-foot wide bridge GDOT will only be able to pour a sidewalk on one side of the roadway. “We do have to wait for warmer weather but once we get that warmer weather this project should move fairly quickly.”
“We get in there, we get out and we leave something they can use.”