Hauling beams to bolster Sope Creek bridge leads to perfect traffic storm
September 05, 2013 12:48 AM | 3634 views | 5 5 comments | 19 19 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Engineers and workers guide the 53-ton steel-reinforced beam into place — with the help of a 500-ton crane — on Wednesday. <br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Engineers and workers guide the 53-ton steel-reinforced beam into place — with the help of a 500-ton crane — on Wednesday.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
The crew puts the beam in place over Sope Creek.<br>Staff/Kelly J. Huff
The crew puts the beam in place over Sope Creek.
Staff/Kelly J. Huff
Five 53-ton beams made their way down Johnson Ferry Road Wednesday to the Sope Creek bridge, adding to the perfect storm of traffic congestion in east Cobb.

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.”

Comments-icon Post a Comment
Just Wait
September 05, 2013
Did I hear that those beams weighed 53 tons?
September 05, 2013
Couldn't the transport of beams have been scheduled for between 8pm to 6am?

Sometimes it's not just a matter of "getting the word out". It's about using common sense.
Al Swigonski
September 05, 2013
GA DOT won't permit the transport of beams this size at night.
September 05, 2013
No, the beam manufacturer and OSHA rules do not allow beams of this length to be delivered at night or in foul weather.
why live there?
September 05, 2013
Why would anyone who ever has to go anywhere live there? It's the least accessible real estate in the metro area but has some of the highest density. The houses are so large they have no yards or privacy because they are packed together like sardines.

There is no train, no bus, no bicycling to work, no walking to work, that river is useless for any transportation purpose, and each of 400, 285 and I-75 is an hour's drive on a normal traffic day!

Is this where people live when they hate their families and want to see them as little as possible?

I just don't get it!!!

Will this new bridge have plenty of reinforced places for attaching ropes for the suicides so prevalent in East Cobb? That's what wore out the old bridge. It wasn't the water!!!
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