Years of waiting for state officials to fund a new bridge to Skidaway Island have come to an end for the island's 10,000 residents.
The Georgia Department of Transportation on Tuesday awarded a $22.5 million contract to United Contractors, Inc. to build a new bridge.
Savannah-area lawmakers have made the project a priority for a good part of a decade. It's been thwarted by lack of funds several times.
The current bridge is almost 40 years old, structurally deficient and prone to frequent malfunctions. It's the only road on and off the island.
The awarding of the DOT contract means that construction will begin next summer on a replacement bridge.
Unlike the present structure, which is a drawbridge, its replacement will be fixed-span, allowing cars, bikes and boats to pass simultaneously.
Chatham County officials have pushed safety in their many attempts to fund a new bridge. Their efforts took on a sense of added urgency after the Minnesota bridge collapse of 2007. Officials also have said that if the bridge were to malfunction during a hurricane evacuation, residents would be stranded.
Completion of the new bridge is expected by 2013.