Vernon Road to close for bridge construction
Feb. 26, 2009

LAGRANGE, Ga.—A section of Vernon Road that runs parallel to LaGrange College will be closed for six to seven days during March weekends while Langford Construction erects the crossing span portion of a pedestrian bridge that will link the college’s new Lewis Library with adjacent parking.

The Georgia Department of Transportation has allowed closure of the portion of Vernon Road, State Route 109, between Park Avenue and the intersection with Broad Street from sunrise on Saturday, March 7, until sunset Sunday, March 8, and from sunrise to sunset Sunday, March 15; Saturday, March 21; Sunday, March 22; Sunday, March 29; and, if needed, on Saturday, March 28.

“We’re required to limit this to weekends, when the traffic is light,” said John Cleaveland, project manager for the general contractor. “Workflow is such that we need two weekends and two Sundays, with one additional Saturday designated as an alternate, only if needed.”

Traffic headed east, toward town, will be detoured left onto Broad Street, returning to Vernon Road at any number of cross streets past campus that join the two. The reverse is true for traffic heading west, which will be rerouted one block north, to Broad Street and back to Vernon Road.

Forrest Avenue will remain open and will be accessible via Broad Street, but will be closed off to Vernon Road.
“We know this will be an inconvenience for the community for a few days, and we’re sorry for that, but this is something we’re doing for the safety of our students,” said Phyllis Whitney, LaGrange College executive vice president for administration.

Click to EnlargeWhitney explained that the construction of the Lewis Library eliminated much of the traditional parking on campus. To make up for that loss, new lots were built on the south side of Vernon Road.

“With an ever-growing number of our students now required to park on the other side of Vernon, we needed to provide them with an additional crossing option,” Whitney said.

Area residents may recall that a short distance west of the bridge construction is the site where, 11 years ago, Dorothy Mariotti, widow of longtime LaGrange College Basketball Coach Alfred Mariotti, was struck and fatally injured by a car while she was attempting to cross Vernon Street on foot.

“A pedestrian bridge is something the college has wanted for years, but with the construction of the Lewis Library, it has now become a necessity,” Whitney said. “Once the bridge is complete, we believe it will serve as an attractive landmark the whole community can be proud of.”

The bridge, designed in a style in keeping with the college’s traditional architecture, will feature a clock tower reminiscent of a local landmark: the Callaway Clock Tower. Two clocks, each measuring 7 feet in diameter, will face east and west toward traffic on Vernon Street.

In January, the college’s board of trustees announced that once fundraising for the bridge is complete, it will be named for the school’s president, Dr. Stuart Gulley, and his wife, Kathleen. Dr. Gulley has announced he is leaving LaGrange in June, after a 13-year stint, to assume the presidency of Atlanta’s Woodward Academy.

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