Road Construction Beginning in June

News

Blue Ridge, Ga – GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation) grants determine county road projects for the year and construction will begin soon.

Director of Public Works Zack Ratcliff approached the Fannin County Board of Commissioners with updated grant money estimates from GDOT for road improvements.

New asphalt construction will begin around June.

GDOT’s Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) goes toward improving roads and bridges in the county. The organization gave Fannin County $664,195.59 to lay new asphalt. The amount increased by $4,000 from 2018.

The estimated total for the paving project is $1.5M, which includes the grant with a 30 percent match required from the county. It would be paid out of the roads and bridges SPLOST.

The project is now out to bid according to Georgia’s guidelines. The acceptance of bids will run for a couple of weeks, and the paving should start around the first of June.

Commissioner Earl Johnson said, “He is glad of the amount that we’re receiving from the state.”

Next, GDOT’s Safety Assistance Program, part of LMIG, is providing funds for striping of county roads. The grant is for $69,000 with the county providing a 30 percent match for a total of $89,700.

Thermal Plastic will be used for the restriping in the county.

Chairman Stan Helton added, “We have to do this according to their standards, which is pretty exacting and pretty expensive, but it’s still worth it since they’re giving us this kind of money.”

Helton also commended Ratcliff for going to GDOT’s district office to lobby for more funds to update the county’s road striping project.

“This comes out to $8,800 per mile, and we’re looking at ten miles,” Post Two Commissioner Glenn Patterson contributed.

This restriping will be eight miles of Aska Road and two miles of Old 76. These roads were chosen by GDOT. The material used will be thermal plastic. It’s heated up to 400 degrees and sits on top of the pavement. The plastic’s more durable than water-based paint typically used by the county and can last up to three times as long as paint.

Post One Commissioner Earl Johnson clarified that striping season only lasts for five months out of the year, and weather will wear striping off the road. Ratcliff added that striping can’t be laid in unfavorable conditions.

“You can go on some state roads right now and it’s hard to see the yellow line. It’s just the nature of the business, and the only way to take care of that is restriping every year. And no one can afford that. At all times, some of our road striping is going better than others and that’s why. It’s just not cost effective to restripe every road every year,” said Johnson.

GDOT Budget for Madola Bridge Project Approved

Community, Fannin County EMA/EMS, News

Blue Ridge, Ga – The Fannin County Board of Commissioners approved a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) for Madola Road bridge construction during the Tuesday, April 23 board meeting.

The commissioners and GDOT must agree on the proposed budget before construction or improvements can proceed. Costs for the project will be split between the state of Georgia and Fannin County with the county expected to pay 50%. The shared cost includes not only bridge work but right of way acquisitions and expenses during the construction process.

GDOT recently recalculated the initial estimate of $327,000 and lowered the proposed expenses to $150,000 total with Fannin paying $75,000 instead of $163,500.

“I like that quite a bit compared to what we had,” said Fannin County Chairman Stan Helton.

“It’s an important bridge to the community. The state’s going to be taking a majority of the cost. I think $75,000 is a very good number for Fannin County,” stated Post One Commissioner Earl Johnson.

Madola road bridge

The Madola Road bridge over Fightingtown Creek is scheduled to be replaced starting in 2022.

Construction will not begin until July 1, 2022, or later. The state still needs to approve the proposed project budget. Only once the budget receives the sign-off from the state will the county have to pay $75,000. Also, the expected amount could still change between now and the start of construction.

Madola Road Bridge built in 1956 was downgraded to a 5-ton weight limit in 2017 by GDOT. The department marked the bridge for replacement during that same inspection. Due to the limited usage, these improvements will open the road back up to motorists with larger hauls.

The Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the MOA and go forward with the project.

Next, Robert Graham, Fannin County EMA Director, announced that the county received a $26,000 federal grant to update the hazard mitigation plan.

A hazard mitigation plan is in place to help lessen the impact of disasters through identifying risks and vulnerabilities and developing long-term strategies to protect people and property. Fannin County’s current plan is updated every five years with November 2016 being the most recent plan approval.

Graham added, “These grants are only available after there has been a disaster in Georgia, then the federal government makes this hazard mitigation money available.”

The grant amount broke down as follows:
• Federal Share: $19,500
• State Share: $2,600
• Local share: $3,900

According to Graham, previously the county portion was paid via in-kind labor, and he expects the same this time, meaning the local portion will be minimal if anything at all.

If approved, Graham will have a new plan in place in 2020.

McCaysville City Council agrees to maintenance on GDOT’s new lighting

Community, News

The McCaysville City Council met for its monthly meeting on Feb. 12, 2019 in City Hall. On the agenda was Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) asking the City to consider maintenance on the upcoming Hwy 5 roundabout.

GDOT will begin construction on Highway 5, also known as Blue Ridge Highway, scheduled for 2020.

There is a proposed truck route with two roundabouts – one in McCaysville beginning near School Street and the other across the river toward Copperhill, TN. These roundabouts will ease traffic flows in both towns by relieving congestion at Blue Ridge Drive and TN 68/GA 60 intersection.

The Council agreed to the following resolution:

                                                              The proposed roundabout in McCaysville GA

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New bridge to be built on the busiest stretch of Aska Road- Are families now at risk?

Community, News

Shallowford Bridge noted for its’ historical significance in Fannin County is eligible to be recognized in The National Registry of Historic Places. Its current fate is at the center of a growing divide between GDOT, businesses, and residents on Aska and Shallowford Bridge roads.

Imagine peak tourist season, bridge construction, road changes, businesses and local residents all converging around Shallowford Bridge and Aska Roads. Those who live in this area can not imagine how this became the pending scenerio. A new bridge is supported, it is the location causing concern for current safety and for the area as it continues to grow in the future.

Earlier this month, GDOT held a Public Open House in Blue Ridge to explain their plans for the replacement of Shallowford Bridge. Concerned citizens were encouraged to ask questions and complete a questionnaire.

Representatives from Michael Baker International, a provider of engineering and consulting services were on hand to offer reasons why this project is imperative. GDOT must repair, replace, or move the current bridge. The bridge does not meet engineering criteria and has many issues, mainly steel related. It is not in safety compliance with federal regulations regarding bridge standards. Considering all available information, it is urgent to address the bridge issues now.

GDOT District Engineer (Cartersville) Grant Waldrop said Shallowford Bridge project will start about September 2020. It is expected to be completed in a 12-month time period.

Waldrop affirmed. “Fannin County has requested we leave the old bridge up. The existing bridge will be open during construction so there won’t be any detours which are about 10 miles down the road.”

While he added residences and businesses along Aska Road and Shallowford Bridge Road will be minimally affected, the residents and business owners expressed a much different opinion.

During the Open House, Kimberly and Charlie Wolfe, owners of Iron Bridge General Store and Cafe, located directly across from the current Shallowford Bridge and expected construction area, voiced their fears of how damaging GDOT’s current plan is for the safety of locals, tourists, and their business. Current plans could also destroy the businesses in the construction area having limited to no customer access for 12 months.

A highly congested area in the summer, and consistently busy in the offseason, they are concerned what it means in regard to safety for everyone. In addition to increased traffic, designated parking spaces, vehicles parked on both sides of Aska Road is increased foot traffic which often includes young children excitedly dashing about. The bridge is set to intersect with Aska Road in the middle of this busy public area.

Plans include a new trussed, concrete bridge to be constructed with two nine-foot lanes and a 10-foot walking path across the Benton-McKaye Trail relocation.

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Where will the new Iron Bridge be? Citizens voice their opinion over placement.

Community, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Citizens united to express concerns over the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) initial plans to replace the Shallowford Bridge or “Iron Bridge” located off of Aska Road, and now they unite once again to present solutions rather than complaints to GDOT about the future of the Aska Adventure Area.


Originally the fate of the Shallowford Bridge came into question when plans emerged for a replacement bridge in the area.

GDOT Proposal of replacement site for the Shallowford Bridge.


Constructed from a steel truss frame and having a wooden deck to allow for traffic, the 100 year old Shallowford Bridge spans 175 feet crossing the Toccoa River. The bridge also forms part of the Benton MacKaye Trail.


These concerns were relieved when GDOT announced that they would not be demolishing the Shallowford Bridge, but rather would be constructing a new bridge nearby. GDOT also expressed that they would be willing to “hand over” the bridge to become property of Fannin County leaving the county responsible for maintenance.


The new location of an upgraded bridge has many residents and business owners in the area concerned. Set almost directly beside the Shallowford Bridge, citizens feel that this could cause more congestion and more safety issues in the area.


“The majority of us, we’re not against the bridge,” Kimberly Wolfe co-owner of the Iron Bridge General Store and Cafe said explaining the purpose of the meeting. “We feel like we do need a new bridge. That’s not an issue. The placement of the new bridge is a huge issue.”


“This one (Shallowford Bridge) has been on the radar for a long time. Out of 100 it scores 13 on sufficiency,” Emil Dunn a member of the State Transportation Board elaborated on the need to build a replacement bridge.


Ron Grace, a resident of the Aska Adventure Area, proposed a different site for the replacement bridge. This site located beyond the Shallowford Bridge, traveling in the direction of Newport Road, would utilize a small portion of land currently owned by the U.S. Forest Service.

Design options shown by GDOT. One similar to these designs will be constructed for the replacement bridge.


Having spoke with the GDOT project manager for the Shallowford Bridge replacement, Grace said of the interaction, “They had not considered the US Forest Service property. They say they are going to look at it.”


According to Grace, GDOT had only considered the proposed site which they presented to the public and a site upstream closer to the Toccoa River Restaurant, but that the second site would have required the purchase of a home.


“Not knowing anything, they put it there because they thought it would look the best and have the least amount of impact,” Dunn spoke of GDOT’s reasoning for the placement saying that it came from an engineer’s perspective and that the proposed site would have the least environmental impact.


Another resident present at the meeting added, “When they (GDOT) picked that site it was because the bank was already high and you didn’t have to build up the bank.”


Area business owner Felton Stephens spoke of the group’s proposal to move the bridge further from the site recommended by GDOT: “It’s a win win situation, it takes most of the traffic off of the home owners, and they could also, if the county wanted to, put in a little more public parking out there. A little bit more access.”


Stephens spoke of adding additional parking near the bridge if it were to be moved to U.S. Forest Service land and an area where kayakers and tubers of the Toccoa would have a place to get in and out of the river.


While citizens seemed agreeable to approaching GDOT with the new proposal site up river, questions still came about regarding the upkeep of the original Shallowford Bridge.


Beyond Fannin County’s already budgeted roads and bridges line item, Dunn also pointed out that there is the possibility of extra funding from the state through the use of a Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG).

Historical photo of the Shallowford Bridge courtesy of the Library of Congress.


If a typical LMIG is applied for by the county and accepted by the state, it allows for a certain amount of money to be designated toward a county project with the county being responsible for a percentage of the cost.


Another option for restoration and maintenance of the Shallowford Bridge was presented by a resident saying that it might be possible to have the bridge put on the Historic Register which would allow for extra funding to be received for its preservation and care.


According to the Library of Congress the “Iron Bridge” is one of 50 Pratt truss bridges recorded in the state of Georgia. Three of of the 50 bridges on record reside in Fannin County.


The fate of the new Shallowford Bridge is yet to be determined, but citizens hope that their voices will be heard before a final decision is made.

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Natalie Kissel

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GDOT: Edge pavement repair begins in Fannin County 

News

BLUE RIDGE, Ga–  A Georgia DOT Maintenance crew begins today its work on repairing the deteriorating edges of pavement on State Route (SR) 5 in Fannin County.  Work will proceed daily Tuesday through Friday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., weather permitting.

Edge repair is a maintenance activity that is intended to guard against pavement failure along the edges due to the action of traffic and the loss of edge support that occurs due to the presence of water, aggressive-growth vegetation, and wind from either traffic or the atmosphere.  Georgia DOT’s edge repairs are designed to minimize the effects of shoulder drop-offs and maximize the safety of the roadway for the traveling public.

You know that construction work zones are dangerous, but do you know that they are not always stationary? Moving work zones that conduct maintenance activities like litter pickup, asphalt repair, mowing, edge pavement repair, pavement marking and sweeping may move slowly and stop intermittently. Treat moving work zones like any other – Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers.  And always, expect the unexpected. Work zone safety is in your hands.

GDOT proposed plans for a new McCaysville-Copperhill truck route

News, Press Release

Public encouraged to attend the meeting.

Blue Ridge, Ga–  A public information open house to view the proposed project to improve State Route (SR) 5 and construct a new location truck route in Fannin County, Georgia and in Polk County, Tennessee is scheduled for Tuesday, September 11, 2018, from 4 to 7 p.m. The meeting will be held at the McCaysville Church of God, located at 1477 Blue Ridge Drive in the city of Blue Ridge, Georgia.

Residents interested in learning more about the proposed project are encouraged to attend the meeting and to visit the website at www.dot.ga.gov.

The proposed project will improve State Route 5 from Old Flowers Road to Colton Avenue by resurfacing the existing two lanes on this portion and constructing 10-foot wide shoulders with 16-inch rumble strips for driver notification of roadway departure. The proposed project will transition to two lanes with curb and gutter with 5-foot sidewalks on both sides. At the intersection of SR 5 and School Street, the project proposes the installation of a roundabout. To learn more about the benefits of roundabouts, visit http://www.dot.ga.gov/DS/SafetyOperation/Roundabouts. The proposed improvements continue northeast along the existing SR 5/Blue Ridge Drive alignment for approximately 0.4 miles to the Toccoa Avenue.

The project also proposes to construct a two-lane truck route along a new location alignment approximately 1.1 miles in length beginning at the proposed roundabout on existing SR 5 at School Street. The roadway continues northwest crossing into Tennessee, then turns to the northeast and bridges over W Tennessee Ave, the Ocoee River, the existing railroad and Tennessee SR 68/Ocoee Street. The roadway then loops around toward the southeast and ties into Tennessee SR 68/Ocoee Street near Colonial Avenue where a second roundabout is proposed.

Grant Waldrop, district engineer at the Georgia DOT office in Cartersville explains, “This meeting will provide the public with an opportunity to review the proposed project and see how the improvements will accommodate taking truck movements out of downtown McCaysville/Copperhill as well as enhance economic development opportunities within Fannin and Polk Counties and the Appalachian region by providing operational improvements along the corridor which may lessen crash frequency and severity.”

The Open House will be informal and the public is invited to attend anytime between 4 and 7 p.m.  The meeting site is accessible to persons with disabilities.  Accommodations for people with disabilities can be arranged with advance notice by calling Joseph Ciavarro at 678-721-5164.

Written statements will be accepted concerning this project until Tuesday, September 25, 2018. Written statements may be submitted to:

Mr. Eric Duff, State Environmental Administrator
Georgia Department of Transportation
Office of Environmental Services
600 West Peachtree Street, NW – 16th Floor
Atlanta, Georgia 30308

Georgia Department of Transportation plans, constructs and maintains Georgia’s state and federal highways. We’re involved in bridge, waterway, public transit, rail, general aviation, bike, and pedestrian programs. And we help local governments maintain their roads. Georgia DOT is committed to providing a safe, seamless and sustainable transportation system that supports Georgia’s economy and is sensitive to its citizens and its environment.

GDOT: Edge pavement repairs begins on GA in Fannin County

News, Press Release

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – A Georgia DOT Maintenance crew begins today its work on repairing the deteriorating edges of pavement on State Route (SR) 5 in Fannin County.  Work will proceed daily Tuesday through Friday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., weather permitting.

Edge repair is a maintenance activity that is intended to guard against pavement failure along the edges due to the action of traffic and the loss of edge support that occurs due to the presence of water, aggressive-growth vegetation, and wind from either traffic or the atmosphere.  Georgia DOT’s edge repairs are designed to minimize the effects of shoulder drop-offs and maximize the safety of the roadway for the traveling public.

You know that construction work zones are dangerous, but do you know that they are not always stationary? Moving work zones that conduct maintenance activities like litter pickup, asphalt repair, mowing, edge pavement repair, pavement marking and sweeping may move slowly and stop intermittently. Treat moving work zones like any other – Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers.  And always, expect the unexpected. Work zone safety is in your hands.
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