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Costs of lake bridge projects keep rising
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Forsyth County News

GAINESVILLE — Costs have increased more than 20 percent in two key Lake Lanier bridge replacement projects.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is now projecting right-of-way acquisition costs to jump to more than $1 million from nearly $800,000 in replacing the Hwy. 369/Browns Bridge Road bridge over the Chattahoochee River.

And construction of the Hwy. 53/Dawsonville Highway bridge over the Chestatee River is at $12.9 million, compared to an earlier estimate of $10.4 million.

The higher costs have emerged in a proposed update to the Gainesville-Hall Metropolitan Planning Organization’s 2012-2017 Transportation Improvement Program. The MPO serves as Hall’s lead transportation planning agency.

The update will be presented at a Wednesday meeting of the MPO’s technical coordinating committee, a group comprising area planners and engineers, with final approval set for Aug. 12 by the MPO’s decision-making policy committee.

Higher costs in both projects show the DOT is moving closer to the respective phase of work in each project.

“As part of development of the [Hwy. 369] project, right-of-way costs are updated as a project nears that phase of work,” said Teri Pope, the DOT’s district spokeswoman.

And changes to the Hwy. 53 project are “due to having better defined plans to estimate the construction cost,” she said. “We also have a better idea of market prices closer to letting.”

The highly traveled bridges date to the 1950s, when Lanier was built, and have been identified as needing replacement.

Right-of-way acquisition on Browns Bridge is scheduled this fiscal year, which began July 1 and ends next June 30. Construction, which is estimated at $13.2 million, is projected to take place in fiscal 2017-18.

Right-of-way acquisition and construction is scheduled this fiscal year on the Hwy. 53 bridge.