TIFTON _ Those orange barrels lining Carpenter Road are a sign that construction is starting on the long-awaited $10.1 million Georgia Department of Transportation widening and reconstruction project.
Right of way clearing has already begun near Davis Road, which is the north end of the project. Contractor Reames and Son Construction Co. Inc. of Valdosta plans is installing drain pipe starting from the south end of the project, U.S. 82/state Route 520.
No road closures are scheduled, but “during the course of construction there’s going to be some flagger operations for one-lane traffic for short periods of time,” Tifton District Engineer Joe Sheffield said.
Motorists are encouraged to use an alternate route during construction. The scheduled completion date is Oct. 31, 2015.
The travel and turn lanes that will be added will open up Carpenter Road and allow traffic to move through more freely, Tift County Manager Jim Carter said. The YMCA and Tifton’s largest primary school are located on Carpenter Road, along with residences and commercial buildings. Drivers use the road to get to sports complexes, Chula, the Coastal Plain Experiment Station and Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College. It’s also a good way to reach the west end of U.S. 82/state Route 520 while avoiding truck traffic on that route.
City and county officials are happy to see the project under way. Most of the project is within the city limits.
“This is a huge project for us. We have a lot of commuter traffic that comes in from the west side of the county and a lot of traffic that goes across town to the hospital,” Tifton City Manager Larry Riner said. “It’s just going to be a huge improvement.”
The project consists of widening and reconstructing 2.5 miles of Carpenter Road and will significantly impact the intersections at Whiddon Mill and King roads. Carpenter Road, currently one lane in each direction, will widen to two lanes in each direction with a center turn lane and curbs and gutters on each side of the road.
The skewed Whiddon Mill Road intersection will be realigned and widened, which will make it safer. Turn lanes and an additional westbound through lane to the Mill Ridge subdivision entrance will be added. The King Road intersection will also get turn lanes. The existing traffic signals at both intersections will be upgraded to go along with the new turn lanes.
Riner and Carter specifically mentioned the benefit of having turns lanes at the intersections when Annie Belle Clark Primary School is in session.
“All it takes is one vehicle turning left and you can stack cars up 15 and 20 deep. Having turn lanes will make the peak periods that much easier to maneuver,” Carter said.
Other improvements include adding right turn lanes on Carpenter Road for the northbound approach to Rainwater Road and converting the right hand northbound lane to a dedicated right turn lane at the approach to Davis Road.
Motorists probably won’t notice a lot of changes on Carpenter Road for a while, Sheffield said. Work that is now being done is largely in preparation of utilities relocation. There are contractual restrictions on when Reames may close lanes. No lane closures are allowed between 7 and 9 a.m. and 2 and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday when school is in session. Also, no work will be done on Sundays.
Construction may sometimes test drivers’ patience.
“It’s not going to be hassle free. There’s a lot involved and there are going to be inconveniences, but I think the end result is going be worth it,” Carter said.
As in any construction zone, motorists are asked to slow down, give their full attention to the road and stay alert for changing traffic conditions and heavy equipment operating near the roadway.