published Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Construction on schedule at Rocky Face exit but to halt for holidays

A southbound Interstate 75 big rig passes above workers as they guide a 9,000-pound I-beam to a flatbed truck for transport at exit 336 in Whitfield County, Ga. The bridge over U.S. Highway 41 is being replaced by C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., of Marietta.
A southbound Interstate 75 big rig passes above workers as they guide a 9,000-pound I-beam to a flatbed truck for transport at exit 336 in Whitfield County, Ga. The bridge over U.S. Highway 41 is being replaced by C.W. Matthews Contracting Co., of Marietta.
Photo by Tim Barber.

Georgia officials say the $34 million construction project at the Rocky Face exit on Interstate 75 is on schedule and within its budget as the end of the year nears.

"It's about 20 percent complete," Georgia Department of Transportation spokesman Mohamed Arafa said Wednesday.

"They're paving the inside shoulder so they can use it as a lane when they close the other lane," Arafa said.

He said the next lane shift will be announced two weeks in advance, but he wasn't certain when that move would come.

The project to widen and improve the interchange and replace four bridges along the stretch of interstate involved in the project began in early October and is expected to be completed by June 2016, he said.

Marietta, Ga.-based C.W. Matthews Contracting Co. bridge project foreman Skip South said crews on Wednesday were dismantling the old bridges. Two bridges at the interchange and two more at a creek just north of the interchange are being replaced as part of the project.

"The beams off the existing bridges are being salvaged by the DOT," South said. "We're loading them up and taking them to the DOT yard at Cartersville."

He said the larger replacement beams -- about 141 feet long at the overpass -- will be set on concrete walls.

"A lot of people call them 'puzzle walls,'" he said of the preformed concrete wall segments the company will use.

Whitfield County Commissioner Lynn Laughter has been a resident of the Rocky Face area since 1993.

"I go by there at least twice a day, if not more often than that," Laughter said of the work zone.

"It's a project that we've needed a long time, and while I dread going through the traffic issues it's going to create while they're doing the work, I'm really looking forward to the work being done," she said.

Arafa said construction will be halted for the holidays at 5 p.m. Friday and work will resume Jan. 2.

"There will be no construction-related lane closures to make it easier on travelers," Arafa said.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bben ton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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