COVINGTON, Ga. — Georgia Department of Transportation officials announced Monday the replacement of the bridge straddling Henry and Newton counties on Hwy. 81 is set to begin soon.
GDOT District Communications Specialist Kyle Collins told The Covington News that Wright Brothers Construction Co. were expecting to close the Keys Road bridge that passes over the South River on Monday, March 22. A contract was first awarded to the company in August 2020.
In doing so, Collins said a detour assigned by the state department that stretches 34 miles would be opened, though local non-truck traffic can find shorter ways around the work closure.
“GDOT selected the off-site detour method and duration to reduce environmental and property impacts, while expediting construction and reducing cost,” Collins said.
Collins said the detour would be in effect through December 2021 while the $4.49 million project is completed.
If traveling south from Newton County into Henry County, the detour will take motorists from Hwy. 81 right onto Hwy. 212, traveling 6.75 miles before turning left onto Hwy. 20/Conyers Road. Motorists will drive for 12.63 miles before turning left onto Hwy. 81/Keys Ferry Street and traveling that highway for 15.28 miles before reaching the other side of the bridge.
Because the bridge was originally built in 1948, Collins said it no longer is up to the state’s design and load specification standards. The replacement plan includes constructing two, 12-foot travel lanes and 10-foot shoulders (four feet paved and six feet unpaved) with rural side ditches. The total length of the project is approximately 0.42 miles.
Additional bridge width will be built on the east side of the existing bridge, and the new profile raised.
A temporary turnaround area will be constructed during the off-site detour to facilitate school bus traffic on the Henry County side.