Tired of detouring to U.S. 72 or Alabama 251 while waiting for part of Forrest Street to reopen? You won't have to wait much longer.
Workers are wrapping up the Forrest Street bridge-replacement project that began in early March, an official said Thursday.
The $4-million project included replacing the two Forrest Street bridges over Swan Creek east of U.S. 31, resurfacing Forrest Street from U.S. 31 to Lindsay Lane, and expanding sidewalks to connect to the Swan Creek Greenway, a National Recreation Trail that runs under Forrest Street.
Athens Road Supervisor Dolph Bradford said the company replacing the bridges — Miller and Miller — said an inspector will have to review the work before the bridges can reopen.
"They have not given us a date yet," Bradford said. "I am not sure where they are at, but it's getting close."
Athens Public Works Director James Rich said in February he expected the project to be finished sometime between late March to early April. Once complete, he said it would open one of the city's east-west corridors and help alleviate school traffic on Alabama 251 and to some degree on U.S. 72. He also said it would open up access for walkers, who have never before been connected to the Swan Creek Greenway.
The bridges over Swan Creek had exceeded their life expectancy, and the new ones will meet safety standards and address structural deficiencies, Rich has said. In addition to being nearly twice as wide and long, the new bridges include bridge parapets, or safety barriers, and a pedestrian lane so residents can walk to the greenway, he said. (The old bridges were 20 feet wide and 100 feet long, while the new bridges are about 40 feet wide and 180 feet long.)
The resurfacing portion of the project replaced inadequate pavement and widened shoulders for safety, he said.
Forrest Street east of U.S. 31 was first closed to traffic March 4, 2019, and motorists were detoured to U.S. 72 and Alabama 251 in the interim.
The Forrest Street bridge project covers 1.26 miles. First suggested in 2013, it is the last project funded under the Alabama Transportation Rehabilitation and Improvement Program. The city’s contract with ALDOT calls for a $4,014,444 project, with ATRIP providing $2,558,081.