GDOT meets with Port Wentworth residents about possible bridge replacement

GDOT shows bridge replacement plans

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - The Georgia Department of Transportation met with Port Wentworth residents Thursday about a big project they could see in the next couple of years.

They’re hoping to replace the Houlihan Bridge as well as the bridge over Middle River.

Crews are still in the very early stages of the project. Folks with GDOT were able to answer any questions as well as address any concerns during the meeting, which lasted about two hours. The proposal replaces the nearly 100-year-old bridges.

The travel and safety shoulders would be widened. GDOT says this would make them safer. The Houlihan replacement also would be higher for boat traffic and would be a fixed bridge.

There would be detours with a project like this, so they went over those plans in the meeting as well. The only detour would be about 30 days at the very end of the project. The goal is to build this at a cost of about $50 million.

We spoke with GDOT about why meetings like Thursday’s are important.

“We want people to come out and look and review the plans we have in place, layout, fact sheet that we have just to kind of get some feedback on how they feel this project would be received in the local area,” said Ron Nelson, Project Manager, GDOT.

Not everyone is on board. Residents used the open house as a chance to check out the project and its potential impacts.

“They do need a lot of maintenance, and it’s good to see new bridges coming in,” said longtime resident, Don Sprouse. “A lot of truck traffic uses the bridge to go to the game preserve, plus go to I-95, and it’s good.”

GDOT says the project is in the very early stages.

“It’s very preliminary,” Nelson said. “We’re hoping to present a good presentation to the public, but again, these are very preliminary plans that we have.”

“Public safety is something that needs to be taken into consideration here,” said Ryan Arvay with the Historic Savannah Foundation. “If the bridge can be upgraded while maintaining the historic character, we’d obviously prefer that.”

The Historic Savannah Foundation is one group pushing GDOT to look at alternatives. Although most assume their work focuses on downtown Savannah, Arvay says they focus on all of Chatham County. He hopes GDOT looks at more than just the sketches.

“All feasible alternatives, and we hope during that process that they may be able to come up with a different alternative than outright replacing it,” he said.

GDOT wants other residents and groups to give their feedback as well.

You can view the display of the project 10 days after the open house at the Georgia DOT Savannah Area Office, located at 630 West Boundary Street. Project information will also be available on Sept. 21 on the Georgia DOT’s website. Comment submissions via email can be sent to ProjectComments@dot.ga.gov.

The timeline for a project like this would be about two years once construction starts. Once again, they’re not that far along right now.

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