U.S. 23 bridge project wins accolade

DULUTH - A construction project that could soon clear a huge bottleneck in Duluth was recognized as the best bridge deck in the state.

The new U.S. Highway 23 bridge over Pleasant Hill Road was recognized for the 2007 Excellence in Road Construction Award by the Georgia Partnership for Transportation Quality earlier this month.

"The bridge deck steel cover is extremely important to the life of the bridge. It eliminates the rusting of the reinforcing steel and adds to the overall structural integrity of the bridge. The more exacting the deck cover, the less maintenance is needed in the life of the bridge. In essence, it saves us time, labor and money because of the decreased maintenance required," said Russell McMurry, district engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The $34.6 million project is on schedule to be completed by January 2009, DOT spokeswoman Teri Pope said.

In addition to the U.S. 23 bridge, Pleasant Hill will also pass under a new railroad bridge. Pope said that bridge is the focus of the project and is expected to be open within the next two months.

Crews are also working on retaining walls throughout the project and installing new traffic signal equipment. When the new railroad bridge is open and the retaining walls are finished, Pope said the focus will shift to roadway work.

"When we have to get in the road and inconvenience motorists, we need to make sure our work is exacting. It is a daily goal that culminates in building a strong transportation infrastructure for all Georgians," State Transportation Board Chairman Mike Evans said in congratulating project manager Dillip Patel and winners of other awards.