By Michael Davis
With the beams raised over part of Interstate 75 and more on the way, the bridge at one of the most bottlenecked interchanges in Henry County is beginning to take shape.
Joe Maiolo deals with the bridge traffic at Eagle's Landing Parkway/ Hudson Bridge Road and I-75, "every day and every night," he said.
The owner of a bakery on Eagle's Landing Parkway about one mile from the construction site, he said he's looking forward to the project's completion. "I'm sure it's going to improve traffic all around the area when it's done," he said.
The first span of what will be an 11-lane bridge went up over the weekend as eight I-beams were set from Eagle's Landing Parkway to the median of the interstate.
Bert Brantley, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation and frequently the victim of Eagle's Landing congestion himself, said tonight the next set of beams will be set over the southbound lanes.
The beam-raising, however, shouldn't impact traffic much, he said, as the setting will be done beginning at midnight.
"It should take about three hours," Brantley said.
Traffic will be paced, or slowed, near the bridge to clear the southbound lanes of I-75 as cranes lift the beams and place them on the concrete supports.
Brantley said traffic will be allowed to flow during the interim periods between the setting of each beam.
All of the concrete beams, Brantley said, are making the journey on trucks from Standard Concrete Products in Savannah to the Henry County site.
Contracting company C.W. Matthews was awarded the $24.1 million contract to build the bridge and widen both Eagle's Landing Parkway and Hudson Bridge Road in January.
The Marietta-based construction firm recently completed the 17th Street Bridge project over the downtown connector in Midtown Atlanta with its notable bright yellow steel beams.
Brantley said project managers expect the first lanes of the Eagle's Landing Parkway bridge to be open by the end of this year. When the first three lanes of the new bridge are completed n two through lanes and one middle, turning lane n the existing bridge will be torn down to make room for the second side of the new bridge.
The full 11-lane bridge is on schedule to be opened in the summer of 2006.
The project also includes widening and lengthening the on- and off-ramps at I-75, a project of C.W. Matthews' road division.
While the ramps aren't expected to be complete by the time the first half of the bridge is open, "it would be great if they did," Brantley said.
"But the priority is to get the bridge done," he added.