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Four-lane Ga.324 bridge moved back up to 2009

LAWRENCEVILLE - A bridge expansion over Interstate 85 that had been moved past 2014 because of money shortfalls instead will be funded in 2009.

The bridge at Ga. Highway 324 is two lanes, but with the road being widened on either side, local leaders said they were more concerned about that project than others that were scheduled for funding, Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Teri Pope said.

The $4.5 million right of way acquisition was moved from fiscal year 2007 until 2008, Pope said, while the $11.9 million construction project was originally put on a list with other long-term unfunded projects late last year.

Tuesday, the bridge construction was moved to fiscal year 2009.

"It's really about as soon as we can get to it," Pope said. "There's going to be four lanes crossing 85, and that's what matters."

But with the addition of the bridge, Pope said, another project must be removed from that year's funding from the same congressional district. What project that is has yet to be determined.

Gwinnett Transportation Director Brian Allen said the Ga. 324 bridge meant more for moving traffic in the short-term than other projects that had been left in the program. The county has already begun two projects to widen Ga. 324 on both sides of the bridge, he said.

"We are moving forward with our part of it," Allen said. "We're full-steam ahead."

Pope said both county leaders and members of the legislative delegation were proponents of getting the bridge project back in line. Whether it will be two parallel structures with two lanes each or one with four lanes is still unknown, she said.

- Senior writer Camie Young contributed to this story