As county and state crews work to complete multiple road improvements, some motorists are finding themselves stuck in traffic or driving out of their way to get to work.
The largest of the projects is the $2.5 million bridge replacement on Paper Mill Road over Sope Creek. It has closed Paper Mill Road at the creek near Woodlawn Drive. The road is open up to the point of the bridge work.
Grant Dozier of west Cobb has been taking the same route to his job in Sandy Springs for the last seven years and is seeing a big difference in traffic.
“I take those back roads in, but since they’ve started this bridge construction, I’ve added a good 20 to 30 minutes to my travel time,” Dozier said.
Drivers are being detoured onto Johnson Ferry, Lower Roswell and
Terrell Mill roads.
“It’s amazing because it’s a 2-mile stretch of road, but you get so backed up,” Dozier said.
Leaving his home around 6:30 a.m., navigating traffic is already a battle. He can’t imagine how it would be during the typical rush hour.
He calls it “growing pains” and says it’s part of the price to pay for improvements.
“I certainly think the bridge was in dire need of repair,” Dozier said.
Daniel McDuff, deputy director of the Cobb Department of Transportation, agrees the bridge built in 1920 and reconstructed in 1970 needed replacing.
“The bridge was temporarily closed last year for repairs over a weekend,” McDuff said. “At that time, it was determined that we needed to replace the bridge as it had reached its useable lifespan.”
Construction started at the beginning of summer break in May and is expected to be finished around Oct. 25.
The project is moving bridge support structures from the middle of Sope Creek underneath the bridge to dry land on the sides. Having those structures in water caused problems and allowed for deterioration. The bridge will be widened and a sidewalk added.
Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area, said the bridge had reached the end of its life.
“We were getting pretty close to where school buses wouldn’t be able to go over the bridge,” Ott said.
The Paper Mill Road bridge isn’t the only project causing a headache for some commuters. A combination of different road projects underway by both the county and state is requiring some drivers to get creative.
Lower Roswell Road has been undergoing a face-lift for the past year. Bike lanes and multi-use trail are being added while crosswalks are being improved and a traffic circle is being added at Lower Roswell and Timber Ridge roads. Lane closures aren’t allowed between 7 and 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.
That project is on time and set to be finished by December.
Johnson Ferry is also getting attention with a paving project and the state transportation department is adding turn lanes on Roswell Road near the site of the new East Cobb Health Park.
“There are some people that think it wasn’t coordinated,” Ott said.
But that’s not true, he maintains.
The projects are needed, Ott said, and county employees are doing what they can to reduce the impact on drivers.
“Obviously it’s unfortunate. I think county staff and (state) DOT have done a remarkable job in trying to get the word out,” Ott said. “Some of these projects just take longer than when school is closed.”