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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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 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 repair begins on GA 60 in Fannin County

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) 60 in Murray 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. 

Put your phone away and just drive: Hands-Free cell phone use is now the law drivers in Georgia

Press Release

Hands-Free cell phone use is law

Drive Alert Arrive Alive, Georgia!

CARTERSVILLE, Ga.—Just put down the phone and DRIVE! Hands-free cell phone use is now the law for drivers in Georgia. The Hands-Free Law (House Bill 673; Hands-Free Georgia Act), which went into effect on July 1, requires hands-free technology when drivers use cell phones and other electronic devices. Among other things, it is illegal for a driver to hold a phone in their hand or to use their body to support a phone. Penalties range from $50 and one point on a license for the first conviction to $150 and three points for the third and subsequent convictions.

Read Georgia Department of Transportation’s (GDOT) The EXTRA MILE blog post – Hands-Free Means Big Changes for the Better in Georgia – by guest author Robert Hydrick of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS). For additional information on the many facets of the law, visit http://www.headsupgeorgia.com/handsfree-law/.

“I am optimistic that Georgia’s new Hands-Free law will save lives,” GDOT Commissioner Russell R. McMurry. P.E. said. “I also want to emphasize how crucial it is for drivers and passengers to buckle up. Seatbelts truly save lives.”

Through its Drive Alert Arrive Alive campaign, GDOT has, for several years, called attention to an alarming surge in fatalities on Georgia’s roads after a decade of reductions. Many of these deaths are preventable. The campaign implores motorists to focus on driving, to not drive distracted and to wear a seatbelt to reduce the chance of serious injury or death if there is a crash. Visitwww.dot.ga.gov/DAAA.

While GDOT reports that, as of June 28, 2018, overall roadway fatalities are down 10 percent in Georgia from the same time last year, pedestrian deaths are up 22 percent. GDOT’s See & Be Seen campaign, the pedestrian component of Drive Alert Arrive Alive, emphasizes that pedestrian safety is a shared responsibility between motorists and pedestrians. Visit www.dot.ga.gov/SBS.

Summer construction roadwork is underway across Georgia. Before you get on the road, call 511 or visit www.511ga.org for real-time information about active construction, incidents and road conditions.Pay extra attention in work zones – slow down and watch for workers.  Work zone safety is everybody’s responsibility. 

Work on a project to upgrade signals at four intersections in Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens

Press Release

Work to begin soon on four signal upgrades in Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties 

  • ELLIJAY, Ga. – Work could begin soon on a signal upgrade project in at various location in Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties. Georgia DOT has just awarded a contract to World Fiber Technologies, LLC. of Land O Lake, Florida, valued at close to a million dollars for a construction project to upgrade the signals at four intersections in these three counties. The project includes a complete signal upgrade with pedestrian accommodation for every intersection. This would bring these intersections up to ADA requirements and replace old signal parts in place. The four intersections are at the following locations:
  • State Route (SR) 515 at Ballewtown Road in Fannin County
  • SR 52 at SR 2/River Street in Gilmer County
  • SR 53 Business at Main Street in Pickens County
  • SR 53 Business at Sammy McGhee Blvd in Pickens County

“This project and others like it in northwest Georgia add up to these two things- better and safer mobility and a better quality of life for all the area residents,” said Grant Waldrop, assistant district engineer at the Georgia DOT office in Cartersville.

This signal upgrade project is scheduled to be completed by the end of June 2019, at a construction cost of $736,739. Information on construction and lane closure schedules on this project will be forthcoming before work begins.

More details on this and other projects in the Department’s most recent bid awards are available via Award Announcement Download at: https://www.bidx.com/ga/letting?lettingid=18051801.

The Georgia Department of Transportation continues its 2018 construction program.  Dozens of important roadway improvement projects are ongoing this summer throughout northwest Georgia as we work to deliver projects on time and on budget while keeping our transportation network the nation’s finest. Pardon the necessary inconvenience and please drive cautiously and safely at all times, especially in work zones.

The public is urged to “know before you go.” For real-time information on active construction, incidents and more, call 511 or visit www511ga.org before you get into your car.

Roadway work zones are hazardous for workers and for the public. In fact, most fatalities in work zones crashes are drivers or passengers. Obey the rules in work zones – Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers.  And always, expect the unexpected. It can make the difference between life and death. Remember – work zone safety is in your hands. For information on the Department of Transportation, visit http://www.dot.ga.gov.  You also may like us on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/GDOTNW) and follow us on Twitter (https://twitter.com/GDOTNW).

Georgia DOT repairs the pavement on State Route 60

Press Release

GDOT: Edge pavement repair begins in Fannin County 

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – A Georgia DOT Maintenance crew begins today its work on repairing the deteriorating edges of pavement on State Route (SR) 60 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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