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Georgia could spend $78M to replace St. Simons Island bridge

April 22, 2021 GMT

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) — Georgia officials say they will have to spend an estimated $78 million to replace a deteriorating 1986 bridge that leads to St. Simons Island.

The state Department of Transportation is soliciting public comment through May 5 on its plans to replace the MacKay River Bridge.

The Brunswick News reports construction could begin in the budget year that begins July 1.

Engineers have found cracks in the bridge’s concrete structure and says water is scouring around its support piers. If the state doesn’t replace it, officials warn it could become unsafe.

“The bridge is safe, but we also have to look at the long term,” said state Department of Transportation spokesperson Jill Nagel. “This is the only route on and off the island.”

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The tall bridge is part of the Torras Causeway leading from Brunswick to the island.

The new bridge would be constructed about 55 feet north of the existing MacKay River Bridge, Nagel said, with traffic continuing to flow across the existing bridge during construction.

The new bridge would include two traffic lanes in each direction and a bicycle and pedestrian path. The path would connect with the existing bicycle pedestrian path along the causeway.

The fishing piers underneath the existing bridge would be demolished along with the existing bridge, DOT officials said. The fishing piers were closed as unsafe in February.