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Traffic ties up commission meeting
Plant's growth to slow Island Higwhay flow
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Islands Highway east of Tradeport East Business Park will have periodic road closures from April 9 through the end of the month as an industrial tenant moves equipment from a barge to the park.
Engineering consultant Trent Long presented the traffic-control and movement plan for the project to the Liberty County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday.
Firth Rixson Forgings will move seven loads of machinery from a barge stationed at Half Moon Marina to the industrial park, according to the plan.
Each load will require a projected five hours of movement toward the company’s site, and movement equipment will require about an hour and half to return to the dock, Long said.
“It’s not going to be just one day, it will be just various times during the daytime that traffic is blocked,” Long said.
Detour routes will include sending traffic northeast on Fort Morris Road and west on Sunbury Road.
To avoid peak traffic times, the moves will occur between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Because tidal activity will affect the movement, the moves may not happen over a consecutive period.
“For the most part, we’re trying to do it with the least impact to the traveling public as we possibly can,” Long said.
He said that moving the equipment overnight would’ve had problems.
“There is a lot lighter traffic if I move from, like, 11 p.m. to 4 in the morning, but then I can’t see the trees that I’m getting close to, I can’t see the overhead power lines. It’s just a lot more sensitive when you’re moving at night,” Long said. “It’s so you can see what you’re doing and see what your obstacles are.”
Chris Miller of Forge Systems Inc., a consulting firm working on the expansion, also appeared. He said the equipment is slated to arrive at the Port of Savannah and will be transported by barge to Liberty County.
There will be passing opportunities, but roads will close intermittently when temporary bridges are set up over three different culverts to ensure loads do not tamper with existing infrastructure.
Long said it would not be feasible to construct the temporary bridges and leave them in place over the move’s duration because they are too steep to accommodate usual traffic loads.
“When they’re loaded, it’s going about 5 miles per hour,” Long added.
The press parts will accommodate the manufacturing facility’s expansion, according to a release from the Liberty County Development Authority. The 200,000-square-foot facility is being expanded by 20 percent, and once in full production the plant is slated to employ more than 300.
Long said that, to his knowledge, the project should not prevent boaters from using the hoist at the marina, but it would affect their movement capabilities.
Commissioner Eddie Walden asked Long, who also serves as the county’s primary engineer, whether he was presenting on behalf of the county or Firth Rixson.
“Basically, I am not getting paid by the county for this job,” Long said.
“So in the end, who is going to be inspecting the work? … No reflection on you, but we don’t want a fox in the hen house,” Walden said. “We want to try to help you folks at Firth Rixson, but if the road’s damaged, we’ve got to make sure that we’ve got folks who are going to get it fixed.”
Long said the team already has captured photographs of existing stress fractures. A Georgia Department of Transportation-certified engineer and inspector, Collins Engineering, will inspect the roads and box culverts after the move.
The board also briefly discussed traffic safety at the intersection of Highway 196 East, or Leroy Coffer Highway, with Pate Rogers and Freedman Grove roads, where there was a fatal accident last week.
The board authorized County Administrator Joey Brown to request that GDoT conduct a traffic study and consider placing a light in the area.
In other business Tuesday, the BoC:
• adopted a previously reported animal-control ordinance revision to take effect May 1. Meantime, the county will work with municipalities to also get them to adopt the rule.
• authorized a contract to conduct elections on behalf of Flemington, which has municipal elections Nov. 5.
• authorized a proclamation declaring April 2013 as National County Government Month.

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