Pio Nono bridge work likely to slow critical fire response times; New Otis Redding bridge opens soon

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Liz Fabian

Macon-Bibb County firefighters will be scrambling to maintain safe response times when Pio Nono Avenue closes in April to raise the bridge near Roff Avenue near Fire Station No. 6.

Construction traffic delays can be inconvenient but Macon-Bibb County Fire Chief Marvin Riggins wants to make sure they are not deadly.

Monday, as Georgia Department of Transportation crews began preliminary work for the partial replacement of the Pio Nono Avenue railroad bridge near Roff Avenue, Riggins is trying to relocate Engine 6 from the nearby fire station.

“Response time will be a little delayed,” Riggins told Macon-Bibb County commissioners when he addressed them last fall. “It does pose a problem. Also, it will impede sheriff, EMS, too.”

Beginning the middle of next month, Pio Nono is expected to be closed to through traffic for about 30 days to raise the bridge over the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks to allow for double-stacked rail cars, according to the GDOT website.

Fire Station No. 6 is about a block south of Vineville Avenue at the corner of Roff Avenue.

The construction is not only expected to close that Roff Avenue intersection and the 400 block of Pio Nono near the old Kroger supermarket, but tear up the front apron of the firehouse.

“The truck won’t be able to get out,” Riggins said recently.

Riggins is hoping to set up a temporary shelter for the truck, possibly in the parking lot of the Vineville Baptist Church, to speed response north of Roff Avenue.

The chief said he has asked GDOT to set up a temporary trailer for firefighters to use as temporary housing near the truck while Pio Nono is closed.

He also plans to have one of the ladder companies shift territory a little bit to help with coverage and speed response times.

The proposed GDOT detour to Roff avenue addresses west of Pio Nono takes motorists to Hillcrest Avenue and then right on Hillcrest Industrial Boulevard. To reach Pio Nono locations south of Roff, GDOT suggests traveling east on Vineville to Interstate 75 South and exiting right on Mercer University Drive and turning right on Pio Nono.

GDOT Detour

Following completion of the Pio Nono bridge, work will begin on replacing the bridge over the Norfolk Southern tracks on College Street near Chestnut Street and Appleton Lane.

Although College Street is expected to be closed for about five months, that project will not impede firefighters and emergency personnel as much, Riggins said.

Crews from headquarters, Fire Station No. 10 on Oglethorpe, are on one side of the closure and Fire Station No. 2 on Monroe Street is on the other.

“We have a number of streets we can use, including Tattnall (Street),” Riggins said. “We should be able to work with that one a little easier.”

Providing the extra clearance for railcars will cost $18.6 million for both bridges and is expected to be completed by the end of this year, according to GDOT.

First phase of new Otis Redding Bridge nears completion

Contractors are getting close to opening a portion of the new Otis Redding Bridge over the Ocmulgee River on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at Coliseum Drive.

Crews had expected to allow southbound traffic on the first side of the Bridge late Sunday, but that has been delayed at least two weeks, according to a GDOT news release.

GDOT planned to make that traffic shift overnight and will likely keep to that schedule once the paving is complete, weather permitting.

When that part of the bridge opens, crews will remove the lane closure on Coliseum Drive between Clinton Street and Interstate 16 and on MLK from I-16 to Riverside Drive.

Liz Fabian
Southbound traffic on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. will soo travel over the first phase of the new Otis Redding Bridge over the Ocmulgee River.

Contact Civic Reporting Senior Fellow Liz Fabian at 478-301-2976 or [email protected]