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Report: Bethelview bridge over Big Creek among states most deficient

WEST FORSYTH — Forsyth County residents generally agree on a few things — traffic is awful, construction is everywhere and both seem constant and never-ending.

The Bethelview Road widening project, however, may be more welcomed after a recent report put its bridge over Big Creek as one of the most-traveled structurally deficient in Georgia.

Built in 1966, the bridge about three miles southwest of Cumming withstood 15,650 daily crossings last year, according to the American Road and Transportation Builders Association’s 2016 Annual Bridge Report.

“Of the 14,790 bridges in the state, 729, or [about] 5 percent, are classified as structurally deficient,” according to the report. “This means one or more of the key bridge elements, such as the deck, superstructure or substructure, is considered to be in ‘poor’ or worse condition.”

Of those 729, the Bethelview bridge over Big Creek, considered an urban minor arterial bridge, is the 19th most traveled.

A replacement bridge is included in the Bethelview Road widening project, which is in the design phase, according to Mohamed Arafa, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

After Forsyth County completes the design process, the state will “later handle the bidding process, awarding of a contract and construction.”

Of the 25 most traveled structurally deficient bridges in Georgia, six are in neighboring Fulton County, representing the most in one jurisdiction.

The most traveled bridge on this list is Fulton’s Interstate-285 bridge over South Utoy Creek in west Atlanta.

It was also built in 1966 but recorded 137,730 daily crossings in 2015 as an urban interstate.

A total of 15 counties were represented in the top 25. Other than Fulton’s six, Muscogee’s three and two each in Coweta, Bibb and DeKalb counties were the only to have more than one bridge on the list.

As a state, bridges in Georgia experienced more than 134 million daily crossings last year, about 1.6 million of which were across structurally deficient bridges.

Georgia’s 729 deficient bridges ranked 27th in the nation, with Iowa’s No. 1 ranking representing 5,025 deficient bridges.

The District of Columbia had the least amount of deficient bridges, 10, in 2015.

It ranked even better in deficient bridges as a percent of the total bridge inventory, with 4.9 percent being No. 44.

Rhode Island had the highest percent of its bridges considered deficient at 23.3 percent, while Nevada had the lowest at 1.8 percent.

Georgia has nearly 13,500 bridges that have proposed structural work.

Federal investment in the state has supported $2 billion for capital improvements on 1,117 projects between 2005-14.

Since 2004, 156 bridges have undergone “major reconstruction” and 920 new bridges were built.