Roadwork to add passing lanes on a heavily trafficked 3.2-mile stretch of U.S. Highway 80 between Brooklet and Statesboro is more than 30 percent complete and should be finished this spring, said a Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman.
Reeves Construction was awarded the $6.4 million roadbuilding contract after a December 2017 bid. The Georgia DOT then issued the notice to proceed in February 2018, with April 2019 originally announced as the completion date.
After clearing the right of way, contractor crews have recently constructed ditches and installed drainage pipes for driveway crossings, said Georgia DOT District 5 Communications Officer Jill Nagel. Meanwhile, utility companies have relocated their lines.
The overall construction “is 30.32 percent complete, and we’re looking at spring of 2019 for this project to be completed,” Nagel said Thursday.
Friday, after talking to an engineer or contractor representative, she said the work remains on schedule. Although paving has not begun, the contractor has progressed to building the base for the new lanes.
“They’re hauling in dirt to construct the base of the roadway, and then they will start constructing the roadway on these new travel lanes,” Nagel said.
This will require some lane closures, as have already occurred with earlier stages of the work.
“There will be lane closures, but not during peak hours, so not when people are going to work or coming home from work,” Nagel said. “We’ve restricted some of those, unless it’s a safety issue that they have to leave a lane closure in place, and that’s rare.”
Improving traffic conditions in the morning and afternoon commuting hours is one of the stated goals of the project. Another is accommodating future growth.
The project will add passing lanes to a previous two-lane segment from the end of the existing five-lane section of highway near Amanda Road to Old Leefield Road outside Brooklet.
A passing lane in the eastern direction will begin about 1,000 feet east of Burkhalter Road and end at Grimshaw Road. Westbound, a passing lane will begin at Old Leefield Road and end about 1,000 feet west of County Road 350, also known as Bud Lee Lane. So there will be a three-lane roadway on each end of the project, but a total of four lanes in the central section where there are passing lanes in both directions.
Nagel acknowledged that rain, winter weather and hurricanes can all slow road construction, and especially the leveling and other earthwork done in preparation. Contractors can be penalized for work that goes beyond an expected completion date, but they can get extensions when the delay occurs through no fault of their own, she said.
“We have had a lot of rain lately, so that will be taken into consideration,” Nagel said in answer to questions Thursday.
But Friday she emphasized that the project is on schedule, and said she was informed that once the “framework of the roadway is in place,” the paving can be completed pretty quickly.
So the Georgia DOT still expects construction and at least temporary striping on the project to be completed this spring. Some work on minor punch-list items or permanent striping could extend beyond that, she said.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.