East Cobb residents got their first detailed look Tuesday night at plans to replace the aging Paper Mill Road bridge over Sope Creek.
The four-month project, which will begin the day after school lets out in May, will cost $1.4 million from leftover 2005 SPLOST funds but is necessary, East Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott said during a town hall meeting at Sope Creek Elementary School.
The new bridge will feature an earth tone-colored stone veneer to blend in with the environment, replacing concrete piers planted in the creekbed. The replacement will be wider and will include a sidewalk, which doesn't exist now.
"The bridge is safe right now, but it needs to be rebuilt," Ott said to a gathering of more than 100 citizens.
Last fall the bridge had to be closed for a weekend to make repairs after a storm and heavy rains.
Built in 1970 at a site that was first developed in 1920, the current bridge handles more than 8,000 vehicle crossings a day.
Ott said there had been some discussion of building a covered bridge, but the additional expense would have to be borne by residents. When he asked the audience who might support that idea, only a few people raised their hands.
Traffic in the Paper Mill Road area will be dramatically affected this summer by the bridge project. Citizens were shown a map of a detour area beginning at Terrell Mill Road, then eastbound along Lower Roswell Road and southbound on Johnson Ferry Road to Paper Mill.
The following restrictions will be in effect during the bridge construction period:
- Sope Creek Elementary and the Sope Creek Park area of the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area will be accessible via Terrell Mill and Lower Roswell;
- The North Atlanta Soccer Association soccer fields will be accessible via Johnson Ferry and Lower Roswell.
Also on Tuesday, Ott showed citizens a map of street light improvements along a curvy portion of Paper Mill Road between Sibley Forest Drive and Waterlilly Way.
It includes a stretch that was the site of a fatal accident in December.
Ryan and Jessica Lombardo, the parents of three East Cobb school children, were killed when the truck in which they were riding lost control and veered off the road, slamming into three trees before overturning.
Cobb Police said the vehicle was speeding, a common factor, along with alcohol, for a number of accidents in the area. The posted speed limit in the area is 30 mph.
"We cannot legislate and protect you when those things happen," Ott said. "We will be enforcing the speed limit."
Sibley Forest resident Julia Villareal can attest to the rash of accidents.
"I've lived here for eight years, and there have been eight accidents" that she knows of.
Villareal said when she sends out the Sibley Forest subdivision e-newsletter, she tells her neighbors: "Don't walk along Paper Mill Road."