New details about a construction project on Georgia State Road 400, north of Atlanta, were recently released by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). Three bridges on Pitts Road, Roberts Drive and Kimball Road will be replaced to accommodate the future SR 400 lanes.
Phase 1 of the design-build project has been advanced from the SR 400 Express Lanes project, according to information listed on the GDOT website. Early construction is set to begin in 2023 and be completed in late 2024. The state agency noted, however, that the schedule is subject to change.
Here is a closer look at the construction highlights for each part of the project:
- Pitts Road Bridge will be replaced and widened to allow for a 12-ft. multiuse path on the structure's south side, a sidewalk on the north side, and interior barrier walls on both sides — separating pedestrians from the two travel lanes. GDOT said this project is being built under a local agreement with the city of Sandy Springs.
- Roberts Drive Bridge also will be replaced and widened. Like Pitts Road Bridge, it will allow for a 12-ft. multiuse path on the south side, a sidewalk on the north side, and interior barrier walls. GDOT is building it in conjunction with the city of Sandy Springs.
- In Alpharetta, a replacement of the Kimball Road Bridge is set to take place, along with a roadway widening from two to four lanes with a median. Here, too, a multiuse path on the north side, and a sidewalk on the south side, will be installed.
GDOT added there have been approved detours for Pitts Road Bridge and Kimball Bridge Road. Staged construction is anticipated for Roberts Drive Bridge, and no detours are currently planned at the site.
The bridge work in Sandy Springs and Alpharetta is still in the initial stages of procurement for the design contractor, GDOT noted. It added that the project has been environmentally cleared under the SR 400 Express Lane project. Noise barriers also are being evaluated for the bridge replacements in accordance with GDOT's noise policy and the Federal Highway Administration noise regulations.
South Atlanta Residents Irked at New Bridge Delay
In the community of South Atlanta, residents there are frustrated over how long it is taking to build a new McDonough Boulevard bridge through their historic neighborhood, according to a report from WXIA 11Alive News in Atlanta.
GDOT initially said construction on the new bridge would be completed by early 2022. However, the transportation department explained that it had to push back the project timeframe to relocate public and private services and utilities, along with railroad use in the area. The agency is now planning to finish the bridge by the fall of next year.
Construction on the structure has been ongoing since February 2020.
As a result, traffic is still a major concern for people living in the neighborhood, with the bridge on McDonough Boulevard forming one of the biggest roadblocks. Many residents feel left out, overlooked, and cut off, WXIA-TV said in its report.
People living in the South Atlanta community said they have waited nearly two years for a new bridge, while experiencing dangerous and time-consuming detours.
Despite the delays, modern apartments, homes and shops are sprouting up around a set of Norfolk Southern railroad tracks within the older neighborhood, Devon Dixon, co-president of the South Atlanta Civic League, told 11Alive News.
"It's a pretty diverse area, [and] tends to be a little lower economically, but it's changing very quickly. It's [also] a tight-knit community. Historically, though, this neighborhood has been divided [by I-85] and the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks."
Kimberlee Jones, a South Atlanta resident, added that hers is "a great neighborhood because you're close to everything, but there are some challenges to living in an area that's been historically underserved and underdeveloped. Along with not having many stores, banks and grocery stores, there's not basic traffic support. There are so many thoroughfares, but they basically go unpatrolled, unchecked. So, you have a lot of speeding, traffic and a lot of accidents."
GDOT's bridge project, though, is looking to improve that support by also realigning the intersections that have become dangerous for drivers as they try and get around the construction. Those interchanges include McDonough Boulevard, Lakewood Avenue and Milton Avenue.
According to Dixon, construction delays have forced drivers to go 15 to 20 minutes out of their way, and pedestrians could spend upwards of 45 minutes trying to walk around the bridge work.
"With the bridge, it significantly reduces transportation time if there's a train on the track," Dixon told 11Alive News. "The bridge will go over it, so it's no longer an impact. Without it, we're stuck. People are essentially making blind U-turns, and illegal U-turns into oncoming traffic at times just to get in and out of the neighborhood."
The construction also has put a dent in local businesses.
Fekadu Alemu owns Lakewood Food Mart, one of the few stores near the McDonough Boulevard bridge. He said the access to I-20 and the Downtown I-75/85 Connector offers an attractive option for residents to move to the area. However, the length of time it has taken to build the bridge has caused him to pay rent out of pocket simply to remain in business.
"I just stay here for future hope, for survival. I'm not making money," Alemu said to the Atlanta TV station. "There's no way to get here. All these neighborhoods behind the bridge, they're left out."
Once completed, the new concrete bridge is expected to be about 170-ft. long and 54-ft. wide. GDOT said the new bridge would be sturdier and wider to be able to accommodate an increase in truck traffic. There also will be ADA-compliant sidewalks.
South Atlanta residents said they are hopeful of seeing new business and a return to normalcy. For now, being allowed to use the bridge in a limited way could help.
"We would really like some sort of a pedestrian option as bridge construction progresses, to at least allow pedestrians and bikes to get across the bridge," Dixon explained. "That would be not ideal, but [it would be] a better solution for us, [rather than having to] walk around."
Today's top stories