Wednesday afternoon's Cartersville-Bartow Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) meeting didn't conclude with the traditional adjournment — rather, it ended with a field trip to what will one day be LakePoint Sporting Community's northern campus.
BM&K Construction & Engineering Senior Project Manager Jacob Hughes ferried a small group of Bartow County representatives — among them, County Commissioner Steve Taylor and Transportation Planner Tom Sills — through the muddy, mineral-rich site to view the insertion of a 136.5-foot-long beam along the LakePoint Parkway extension bridge.
In total, Sills said eight beams were scheduled to be installed Wednesday. The rainy afternoon weather, however, slowed down the pace of the project.
"Usually, it gets a little quicker," Hughes said as a truck bed slowly backed one of the beams towards a towering crane. "It'll take you an hour to do the first one, it'll take you 45 minutes to do the second one … you get a little quicker as you move along."
The job is complicated not just by the weather conditions, but by its proximity to the railroad. Construction personnel stay in constant contact with CSX on the train schedules, with work coming to a standstill to allow the trains ample time — and space — to pass through.
It takes multiple pieces of heavy equipment, operating in tandem, to move the long and heavy structures.
"You'll have two cranes holding the end of the beam," Hughes said. "The little snooper, he'll go up there and unhook the crane across the way and then this guy'll have it. And then he'll swing back around and get the end, and they'll both set it down."
Placing the beams takes pinpoint accuracy — literally.
"There's actually a pin that goes on the end of that beam," Hughes said. "And on that end, there's a slotted hole for temperature differential in the winter and the summer for that beam to move, to expand and to contract … that end is where all the give is."
According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, the roughly two-mile LakePoint Parkway extension project is approximately two-thirds completed. GDOT currently tabs the construction cost of the first phase of the project, which will ultimately connect into Red Top Mountain Road, at $5 million.
At the MPO meeting prior to the site visit, Sills touched upon several other ongoing transportation projects in the community.
A grant application for Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP) funding, he said, has been approved to pave the roads around the Gatewood Park campground. At the county level, Sills said there has also been an application filed for Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) funds. "Jointly with the City of Cartersville," he said, "we'll get sidewalks along Grassdale Road between Cassville Road and Joe Frank Harris Parkway."
The MPO, he added, is also eyeing funding to construct sidewalks to tie into the Allatoona Elementary School and Allatoona Resource Center. "We have yet to hear back from any of those proposals, but I'll keep you apprised of when we will get word back on those," Sills said.
The county is "clearing trees as we speak" as part of the first phase of the Cass-White Road improvement project.
"It starts off US 411 coming into that project," Sills continued. "We're moving ahead with C.W. Matthews. We are still awaiting, at this point, an environmental permit for some of the sensitive areas and the site visit on that is taking place Nov. 27 … so hopefully by the first week of December, we should have a permit."
The MPO, Sills said, has also received a cost estimate for a Cass-White Road Phase II concept, with a follow-up meeting planned for next month. "And from that point forward, we'll start preliminary engineering," Sills said.
Regarding the county's plans to approach the Old Alabama Road project in three construction sequences, Bartow County Administrator Peter Olson said he's optimistic an environmental review and design work will be finished by Oct. 2019.
According to a GDOT representative, there is a possibility that federal and state funds could be blended to finance the phased project.
As for the Rome-Cartersville Development Corridor, Sills offered a brief update.
"They are still talking to Beauflor about the intersection of Cass-White Road, and I don't know what the determination was on that," he said. "I did hear that the [Federal Highway Administration] has approved the acquisition of the property along the corridor."