UPDATE: Working well past their previously estimated deadlines, GDOT completed the Georgia State Route 299 bridge over Interstate 24 early Tuesday morning, opening the brand-new bridge to traffic.
PREVIOUS STORY: The construction project that began on the Georgia State Route 299 bridge over I-24 has reached the 56-hour mark, but crews are still working past the estimated deadline to complete the project.
The project was supposed to be finished by 5:00 a.m. Monday morning, but is several hours behind schedule, and will likely affect traffic throughout the day.
Crews have placed the east side of the bridge in its final resting place, but still need to move the other half into place. Traffic is still on the eastbound side, so drivers will have to share the westbound lanes until construction is complete.
GDOT officials say they used an "accelerated bridge construction method" to allow this phase of the project to have minimal impact on traffic.
A spokesperson with GDOT told Channel 3 the project should have been finished by midday, but may last until Monday evening.
PREVIOUS STORY: Crews working on the Georgia State Route 299 bridge over Interstate 24 report that they are slightly behind schedule. Work will continue through Monday morning. The western section of the bridge has not yet been moved into position as of early Monday.
By Sunday evening, the eastern half of the bridge had been moved and carefully put in place as work continues on the western section.
If you plan to drive on Interstate 24 this weekend west of Chattanooga, you may experience a delay.
The reason? The Georgia Department of Transportation is replacing the GA State Route 299 bridge over the interstate, using their Accelerated Bridge Construction (ABC) method which will allow the existing bridge removal and new bridge installation to occur within a 56-hour time period.
It's designed to shorten the construction time, and minimize traffic impact.
However, it’s also going to be a headache for a convenience store across the bridge because without it, drivers won't be able to reach the store.
"People see the construction going they don't want to come to this area and go to another exit. Most of our business is highway you know?” Ameer Ali said.
Ali owns a store directly over State Route 299 and is worried about how this next phase of the project will impact his business. Since the construction started he estimates he's lost about 30% of his business.
“Traffic is not coming so we have to be closed. We might open late, we'll try if it's a little busy. Otherwise we have to close,” Ali said.
The work will take place the weekend of May 12-14. The new bridge will be moved into place where the existing structure is currently.
It will be done in two sections, and traffic will be shifted out of harm's way underneath of Interstate 24.
Ali said he understands why the construction needs to happen, he just wishes he knew about the closure in advance.
"We see the signs on the highway, that the bridge is closed from this time to this time but nobody came and told us,” he added.
GDOT outlines the detour routes as:
First detour - Eastbound I-24 eastbound traffic will be diverted to the median crossover. The SR 299 eastbound on-ramp will be closed. The I-24 eastbound off-ramp and westbound ramps will remain open. SR 299 South (9.72 miles)
SR 299 Ramp to I-24 W to I-59 S
Exit17 GA to I-59 N exit SR 299 N
SR 299 North (7.31 miles)
East on SR 299 to TN 11
To US 41, take I-24 W to SR 299 S
Second detour - Westbound Travel will resume in the I-24 eastbound lanes. I-24 westbound traf c will be diverted to the median crossover. The I-24 westbound off-ramp will be closed. The SR 299 westbound on-ramp and I-24 eastbound ramps will remain open.