Bridge construction to close Highway 21 in Port Wentworth Saturday morning

BULLOCH CO., GA (WTOC) - If you plan on taking Highway 21 near the Chatham/Effingham county line on Saturday, we have some news for you.

All lanes will be blocked for several hours Saturday morning at Lakeside Boulevard as construction crews raise a pedestrian bridge over the roadway. Construction teams will raise the nearly 200-foot-long bridge over the highway - a process they anticipate will take several hours.

From 7 a.m. until 11 a.m., Highway 21 will be shut down at the cross street until the work is finished. There will still be access to the shopping center. There will also be signs marking the detours as well as electric signs warning of the closure.

We spoke to a Department of Transportation representative earlier this week who says the nearly $4 million project is a necessity to guarantee the safety of anyone wanting to cross the busy road, especially from Rice Creek School to the neighborhoods right across 21.

"Going to the crosswalk is a safe way to cross the road, but with the amount of traffic that we have here on State Route 21, we want to make sure that we give them the safest way to cross the road, so that will be with this pedestrian bridge," said Jill Nagel, GDOT. "It was brought to our attention. We looked at the different ways to make this the safest intersection for children, and the pedestrian bridge was the best option."

We've had several questions come into our newsroom about the type of bridge this is and how secure it will really be. The questions stemmed from the recent pedestrian bridge collapse in South Florida. Nagel says this bridge is different - a steel beam bridge - so it's hard to compare the two because the FIU bridge relied on cables and was a suspension-style bridge.

However, Nagel says they are confident in the design and strength.

"We are right at the tail end of this project and we're very excited to see children crossing and their parents taking them to school in a very safe manner," she said.  "We just ask for everyone's patience. They are going to have everything ready to go and do this as quickly as possible, so unless there is a weather delay, this will happen Saturday morning from 7 a.m. to 11 a.m.

Detour signs will be posted, so keep an eye out for those.

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