GDOT holds public information open house to discuss reconstruction of Darien Bridge

Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 8:42 PM EST
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DARIEN, Ga. (WTOC) - The Georgia Department of Transportation hosted a public information open house in Darien today for their plans to reconstruct the Darien Bridge.

It’s the main connection between Darien and Brunswick along Highway 17 and business owners and people who live in Darien have stressed the importance of it staying open during construction.

Last month, GDOT released their preliminary plans for the reconstruction of the Darien Bridge. This open house served as an opportunity for people who live in the area to get their questions answered about the plan.

It was a packed house in Darien City Hall as people showed up to see the renderings of the construction plan.

“We’re particularly grateful that GDOT is listening to the members of our community and understand how important it is to keep our businesses open and traffic going across the bridge, so I think we’re going in the right direction,” said Bill Barton, a resident of Darien and a member of Darien Planning Commission.

Previously, Darien city leaders say they were told GDOT would be shutting down the Darien bridge for years while it’s reconstructed. Last July, GDOT confirmed that they would be keeping the bridge open to traffic. However, the preliminary construction plans still have a potential 30-day closure to connect portions of the bridge.

“I drive back and forth over the bridge three to four times a week at least, because I work in Brunswick. So, them doing half of the bridge at a time is really important to me actually being able to actually cross over,” said Katie Hay-Malopo, a resident of Darien.

GDOT representatives say construction on the bridge, built in the 1940s, is necessary.

“We’re coming up on about 80 years of life, generally bridges have roughly 50 years of life, especially as they were designed back in that time, so lots of things have changed. Modern vehicles have changed. Weights have gone up on these vehicles that are going to and from the bridge. It’s definitely safe for travel, but it’s been eyed for replacement for several years,” said Kyle Collins with the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Many residents came to the meeting to voice their concerns.

“My biggest concern is how are they going to slow traffic down coming off of the bridge? Right now, nobody slows down even though there’s a 35 miles per hour speed limit,” said George Bigham, a resident of Darien.

While GDOT is taking public comment now, construction isn’t expected to start until 2026.

If you were unable to make it to the meeting, you can still submit comments to GDOT online until January 31st.