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CSX path bridge may open next weekend

The cart path bridge spanning the CSX railroad track on Ga. Highway 54 West could open as soon as next weekend, according to City Manager Bernie McMullen.

The contractor is installing additional railing in several locations, a process expected to end early next week. Once complete, the Georgia Department of Transportation must come back for a final inspection before the bridge can be officially opened.

A grand opening celebration for the three-plus year long project has been slated for Sunday, May 2.

The bridge, along with two tunnels underneath the road, provide a way for residents to travel between The Avenue, Marketplace and McIntosh Village shopping centers. As such, the city is encouraging businesses in the area to hold special events such as sidewalk sales by waiving special event fees in conjunction with the bridge grand opening.

The project’s completion has been a long time in coming. It has been more than three years since the bridge and tunnels were installed during part of the widening of Hwy. 54 in the area.

A significant part of the delay was chalked up to the length of time it took DOT to evaluate the city’s air quality impact study, which is ironic since the only emissions that might be tied to the path would come from the use of gas-powered golf carts, which are far outnumbered by electric carts.

The project also lacked continuity because the grant for the path installation was a separate project from the road widening, officials said.

The city got DOT approval to proceed with path construction and awarded a bid the end of November, but rains in the area have slowed the path construction significantly and pushed the project several weeks past its estimated completion date.

The contractor on the project is Lewallen Construction Company Inc. of Marietta. Of the total $157,490 cost, the city has to chip in $31,498 as its 20 percent matching grant, with the rest coming from the DOT grant.

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