Georgia officials announced Friday that Balfour Beatty Infrastructure Inc., which is headquartered in Atlanta, will build the replacement for the 60-year-old Back River Bridge. The cost will be $14.4 million, according to a news release from the Georgia Department of Transportation. Balfour Beatty beat out four other companies, and past projects include the Sikorsky Bridge, an $83.6 million contract with Connecticut and the Virginia Dare Memorial Bridge, a $91.6 million contract with North Carolina, among others. The new Back River Bridge, which connects Savannah and Jasper County, S.C. on U.S. 17, is scheduled to open in January 2016. The current volume of 19,000 vehicles a day is projected to nearly double in coming years to as many as 35,000, according to GDOT. The new bridge will stand about three feet higher than the original and will be wider, with eight-foot shoulders in each direction. The shoulder lanes are expected to offer faster clearance of vehicle breakdowns and accidents that currently force the entire bridge to close. Such was the case on Monday when a motorist crossed the center lane and caused an accident, according to authorities. The wreck injured several people and resulted in an hours-long closure of the Back River and Talmadge bridges. Federal funds will cover 80 percent of the project’s cost, and Georgia and South Carolina will proportionally share the remainder, according to the Georgia agency’s news release. Replacement plans for the existing bridge have been under way since at least 2007. Though classified as “structurally deficient” by regulators, it is still considered safe to use anad will remain in service until the new structure opens. The permitting process for the new bridge involved environmental agencies from both states, as well as the Charleston District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which issued its Department of the Army permit last fall. The project is located in an environmentally sensitive area and will require placing fill material in 1.65 acres of tidal wetlands and temporarily clearing of about one-third of an acre of wetlands.
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