By Amy Wenk
What once seemed a long-and-winding road has become an easy street.
The city of Sandy Springs is receiving a grant from the Federal Highway Administration to fund 100 percent of the replacement cost of the Peachtree-Dunwoody Road bridge over Nancy Creek.
The bridge failed Sept. 22 after floodwaters washed out the middle pier of the structure. It remains closed, detouring drivers and disrupting commutes, especially for Sandy Springs, Buckhead and Brookhaven residents who frequent the residential corridor that spans all three communities.
But at an Oct. 8 meeting with Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) Chief Engineer Gerald Ross, Sandy Springs officials got some good news.
Ross informed the city a new bridge will be built and open to traffic within 180 days, a rather “aggressive schedule” said David Chastant and Ron Adderley of Sandy Springs Public Works.
GDOT anticipates the project design will be completed by Oct. 16, and the project will bid out Oct. 16 or 19. The federal government will foot the bill, allocating $4 million to $5 million to Sandy Springs to fix both the Peachtree-Dunwoody bridge and another failed bridge on Riverside Drive.
“It is a tremendous relief to the city,” Sandy Springs Mayor Eva Galambos said about the grant.
City officials initially thought fixing the bridge would be more time-consuming. At a Sept. 28 meeting, Director of Public Works Thomas Black announced the city was seeking a $300,000 temporary fix, which would have got the bridge back up running in about six weeks. Afterwards, the plan was for Public Works to build a new bridge off to the side. The project was anticipated to cost $2 million to $2.5 million and take at least two years to construct.
But when hydrologists dug into the riverbed at Nancy Creek, looking for bedrock to put pilings down to temporarily stabilize the bridge, none could be found, according to Sandy Springs Dist. 5 City Councilman Tibby DeJulio.
“They went down between 50 and 60 feet and could not find bedrock,” he said. “That was the reason they could not put pilings down there, and in effect, prop up the old bridge to make it repairable. That is why they have to go ahead and put a whole new bridge in.”
The grant will fund a bridge almost identical to the original, except a pedestrian walkway will be added said DeJulio.
“That is a big bonus,” he said. “We really needed that.”
In addition, because the new bridge will occupy the same footprint as the failed structure, no environmental assessment is necessary prior to project commencement. That saves many months and a lot of effort.
“It is wonderful news for the city,” DeJulio said.
Once the project begins, residents and motorists should be mindful of the area as construction will take place day and night to meet the 180-day deadline. Watch for posted signs and detours near the bridge, as well as at www.sandyspringsga.org.