By Amy Wenk

It will be spring before drivers can travel the Peachtree-Dunwoody bridge over Nancy Creek.

Just three days after winning the contract, crews from Massana Construction began work on the new bridge Nov. 6.

The bridge, closed since the September flooding in metro Atlanta, is set to reopen March 24, 2010, but Massana Project Manager Aaron Jennings said his team will do “whatever we can to get it done as soon as possible” by working Mondays through Saturdays, and some Sundays.

The first order of business is to relocate gas and water mains so service to residents is not disrupted. Workers from Southeast Connections (a subcontractor for Atlanta Gas Light) were onsite Nov. 6 to relocate the gas main underneath the creek. Foreman Chad Bishop said the work could be complete in a day.

“It just depends on the ground condition,” said Bishop, noting the presence of rock will delay the process. “We are hoping for the best.”

Sandy Springs officials said public meetings will be held to inform residents of construction progress.

The Peachtree-Dunwoody bridge failed Sept. 22 after floodwaters washed out the middle pier of the structure. It remains closed, detouring drivers and disrupting commutes, especially for Sandy Springs, Buckhead and Brookhaven residents who frequent the residential corridor that spans all three communities.

It is costing just over $1 million to build a new bridge, and the project will be fully funded through a grant from the Federal Highway Administration.

“They fast-track everything,” said Sandy Springs Director of Public Works Tom Black at a Nov. 4 meeting. “Where it would normally take us three to three-and-a-half years to permit and build that bridge, this is all going to happen in 180 days.”

City officials first estimated the cost to rebuild to be around $2 million.

The new bridge will be similar to the old structure but will include 5 ½-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides, said Black. He said the bridge has 14-foot-wide car lanes each direction and “they are going to stripe them in such a way that fearless bikers can have a path over the bridge.”

The 120-foot-long bridge will not have a center support in the creek and will be constructed entirely of concrete. Where the bridge was perpendicular to the road, the Department of Transportation is going to improve efficiency by angling the bridge about 65 degrees. Instead of straight abutments, it will have two sets of columns.

“We think it is going to help significantly on the efficiency and cut back down on scour-type factors, because the water will now flow where it should rather than trying to turn it,” Black said. “That was one of the problems … [the rain-swollen creek] undermined that center support with that volume of water.”

Although there are signs posted on both ends of Peachtree-Dunwoody, Black said some motorists think they can get through. He said a tractor-trailer recently ignored the signs and got stuck by the bridge. The driver tore up some residents’ lawns in the process of turning around.

John Schaffner contributed to this article