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Road, pipes to get upgrade along Rockbridge

LAWRENCEVILLE - While a southern Gwinnett road gets an upgrade, crews will also replace 50-year-old water pipes if commissioners approve a $1 million addition to the budget.

"It's the part of Gwinnett that developed first because it's closest to Atlanta," Transportation Program Delivery Director Alan Chapman said of the project on Rockbridge Road between Jimmy Carter Boulevard and U.S. Highway 29. "A lot of the infrastructure needs to be replaced."

According to George Kaffezakis of the Gwinnett Department of Water Resources, crews have to move the old pipes anyway, so that Rockbridge Road can be widened and sidewalks can be built.

The water department had already agreed to pay $284,000 to move the pipes, but decided to replace the entire system when an investigation revealed other issues.

Kaffezakis said the 10-inch cast-iron pipe was installed in 1958 and, while 13 subdivision roads intersect with Rockbridge in the area, there are no valves along the stretch. That means any problems along the 8,900 feet of pipe would leave all of the neighborhoods would be without water.

Kaffezakis said the area has water quality issues, and upgrades would also help with fire protection.

"It sounds like it's really needed," said Water and Sewerage Authority Chairwoman Garland Smith. The authority approved the budget increase last week, but commissioners will decide final approval Tuesday.

Chapman said the $6.7 million original contract with Gary's Grading would add a center-turn lane from Jimmy Carter Boulevard to U.S. 29 on Rockbridge as well as add sidewalks and replace a bridge over Jackson Creek. The project is expected to be complete in mid-2008.