At an open house meeting held at Chestatee Elementary School on Tuesday night, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) released the first look at its plans to replace a culvert on Hwy. 306 (Keith Bridge Road) in north Forsyth that will significantly limit access to the roadway during the coming year.
According to GDOT officials at the meeting, the culvert project will involve closing and replacing about 500 feet of Hwy. 306, just east of Cantrell Road.
The project will tentatively take six months to complete, officials said, and during that period traffic will be diverted through an official detour which will take drivers approximately 14 miles around the closure on Hwy. 369, Ga. 400 and Hwy. 53.
Although the posted detour will take drivers through surrounding highways to avoid the road closure, other shorter detour routes through county roads will be available to local traffic, according to GDOT district spokeswoman Katie Strickland.
"People are going to figure that out, and it's going to be a much shorter detour," Strickland said.
Trucks and other “heavy vehicles” will be required to take the posted detour during the project.
Joel Seagraves, GDOT Assistant District Design Engineer,
said at the meeting that the current culvert under that stretch of Hwy. 306 was
identified as one nearing the end of its life, and the proposed project is the most
efficient way to get it done on such a busy road.
"You don't want to let hydraulic structures get to a point of where it becomes an issue,” Seagraves said. “You want to replace them before you are scrambling.”
During construction, the unnamed stream will be diverted through the new culvert location and the old culvert will be removed before the roadway is rebuilt, he said.
It would be possible to do the project so that one half of the roadway is worked on at a time, leaving one lane open, but according to Seagraves removing the roadway completely from the beginning will complete the project faster.
"There's so much traffic on 306, we really don't want to stop one lane," Seagraves said.
Currently, there is no definite timeline for when the project will begin and end, but Strickland said that that information will be released after the project has been bid out to a contractor in February. GDOT officials said they will attempt to have the majority of construction occur during the summer of 2020.
Until then, Strickland said that GDOT wants to hear from members of the community on what they think about the project. That’s why they held the open house on Tuesday night, she said.
"This meeting is where we get all the comments from people, because we don't drive these routes every day, so we need the community to tell us, 'Hey, there's this going on' and 'Hey, this might be going on,'" she said.
If you weren’t able to be at the meeting, Strickland said that GDOT is accepting comments online at www.dot.ga.gov/AboutGDOT/PublicOutreach, until Dec. 17.