By Valerie Baldowski
Henry County officials are making plans to build a long-awaited bridge over the railroad tracks on Rock Quarry Road in Stockbridge.
Thursday, the Henry County Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) Department hosted a public information meeting to update area residents on the progress made thus far. The meeting was held at the Merle Manders Conference Center in Stockbridge.
District IV Commissioner Reid Bowman said a quick way to get emergency vehicles over the tracks, which interrupt the flow of traffic on a road that leads to Henry Medical Center, has been needed for some time.
"The bridge is needed in the event of an emergency, to get people to the hospital," said Bowman. "This bridge has been the subject of lots of conversation. At this point in time, we want to do something about it. I believe it's going to move traffic better."
Bowman said about 20 residents who attended Thursday's meeting got a first-hand look at the blueprints of the proposed bridge. Although attendance was sparse, Bowman said he was pleased with the results of the gathering.
"It went real well," he said. "We explained everything, and there were very few questions. The ones that were there were very satisfied that we are moving forward."
Bowman said engineering work on the bridge project is expected to be complete by the end of December. The county will begin acquiring the right of way in the area early next year, he said, with the groundbreaking to take place later next year.
"We anticipate bidding the project out in spring of 2010," Bowman said. "It will take approximately 18 months to build the bridge."
The roadwork will involve widening some portions of Rock Quarry Road from two to four lanes, as well as re-directing traffic along Rock Quarry Road and nearby Railroad Street while work is in progress.
The bridge portion of the project will be financed by Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds, said Bowman, adding that the county is hoping for federal funding to help with the cost of the work.