Officials move forward on bridge projects

LAWRENCEVILLE - Bridges over Interstate 85 are almost "shovel ready."

Commissioners today will take steps to bring construction near for the stimulus-funded widening of the Ga. Highway 324 bridge and an extension to McGinnis Ferry Road over the interstate.

Last week, officials announced the first 47 projects in Georgia to get construction contracts, including $2.2 million to upgrade traffic signals and timing on Buford Highway, from the DeKalb County line to Sugarloaf Parkway.

Gwinnett Department of Transportation Deputy Director Alan Chapman said the two bridge projects are expected to go to construction this summer, but officials had to take care of some last-minute details, including moving water and sewer pipes out of the way.

Agenda items for today also include an agreement for the county to enter into negotiations to buy land for the Ga. 324 project, which is already under way for McGinnis Ferry, and a possible condemnation of land for both projects.

"It's all the certifications we need to do to show the state and the feds that these are

shovel-ready," Chapman said of the requirement for stimulus funds.

Commissioners will also be asked to agree to a change in a design contract for Ga. 324, also known as Gravel Springs Road, for a value engineering study. The study, which is already complete, cost about $55,000, but is expected to bring $550,000 in savings during construction because of modifications to road shoulders, striping and the elimination of some concrete.

"It was a worthwhile study to go through," based on the cost-savings, Chapman said.

With about $80 million total in road construction expected to come to Gwinnett from the federal stimulus package, commissioners will also consider a grant application for $9.4 million in stimulus funds for the Gwinnett Transit system.

Chapman said the money would go to technology and security upgrades, midlife overhauls of 28 buses and the purchase of two paratransit vehicles.