New “Bridge to Nature” for Elachee Drive

Interstate 985 is looking different these days, as noticed by everyday commuters passing by Elachee’s Main Campus. The Georgia DOT determined that the existing “bridge to nature” connecting Elachee Drive to our campus requires replacement. The existing Elachee Bridge over I-985 was constructed in 1967. The new bridge will be built to the north side of the existing bridge, with impressive enhancements including a pedestrian walkway and new beautification features that will welcome visitors to Gainesville.

As those of you who have visited us recently will know, December brought a focus on clearing the land and prepping for the new bridge. While seeing these trees removed was a tough sight for us all, we are incredibly thankful for the new bridge and the opportunity it brings to introduce thousands more visitors to the natural world here in Chicopee Woods Nature Preserve. Collaborations with the environmental engineers and project managers here on the ground have the goal of limiting ecological damage as much as possible during this necessary build.

Elachee is also working closely with one of the incredible partners who knows Chicopee Woods well, New Urban Forestry, to protect and encourage tree health and growth in prioritized areas within the preserve. This project involves certified arborists identifying at risk tree groups and treating the root sections with sucking-insect basal treatments, soil care and injections, phytophthora treatment, and more to support the trees that call Chicopee Woods and Elachee home.

For our visitors, we are so grateful for your patience during this time of disruption. GDOT has assured us that they will try to minimize disturbance as much as possible, but there will be times during which the existing Elachee bridge will be confined to one lane. However, your Bridge to Nature will never be outright closed due to this construction. Efforts are also underway to repair further damage, such as potholes, that will result from these large trucks and equipment, which will be addressed after the completion of the project.

Elachee will provide updates as the project progresses. We are incredibly excited about the ultimate goal for this new bridge, to bring more of our community back home to Chicopee Woods and Elachee Nature Science Center.