Almost a year to the day after it closed, the Georgia Highway 136 bridge over West Chickamauga Creek in western Walker County has reopened — and it's completely new.
"I think it's wonderful," Walker County Coordinator David Ashburn said. "Especially if you're trying to go across Walker County, the western side. [During construction] you had to go 10 or 12 miles out of the way."
The $1.7 million bridge, supported by six thick columns sunk into the creek bed, has shoulders more than 6 feet wide compared to the old bridge's 2-foot-wide shoulders -- which should make bicycling easier. It's built to handle heavy traffic because Highway 136 is a truck route.
Next up is the repaving of a 14.5-mile stretch of Highway 136 from the border of Dade and Walker counties to State Route 1/U.S. Highway 27 in LaFayette, Ga.
The Georgia Department of Transportation awarded the repaving contract to low bidder Wright Bros. Construction of Charleston, Tenn., for $2,432,193.
The repaving is supposed to be finished by the end of August 2014.
"When they're going to start, we still don't know," state Transportation Department spokesman Mohamed Arafa said.
The Transportation Department will learn of any lane closures or other traffic impacts and share that information with the public well before repaving work starts, Arafa said.
Funding for the repaving is a mix of federal and state dollars, he said.
The Transportation Department had the old bridge replaced because it was found to be structurally deficient and functionally obsolete.
When the old bridge over West Chickamauga Creek closed on Oct. 16, 2012, so it could be demolished and hauled away, the hope was that work would be finished by July of this year.
But construction of the new bridge was delayed because a Tennessee Valley Authority electrical transmission line needed to be moved. That way, tall cranes could be used to work on the bridge. The trouble was, TVA only shuts down power lines in the fall and spring, when demand is down for air conditioning and heating. That pushed off an August start date for Talley Construction Inc. of Rossville.
Because of the TVA power lines, the Georgia Department of Transportation revised the bridge completion date to Jan. 31, 2014. Talley Construction got the work done almost four months before the revised deadline.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.