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Motorists trade delays for improved intersection
Project on U.S. 80 at Burkhalter includes traffic signals
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Paving on U.S. Highway 80 at the Burkhalter Road intersection prompted lane closures throughout the work day, but that phase of the project was drawing to an end late Friday afternoon, said Jill Nagel, District 5 Georgia Department of Transportation communications officer.

Much of the paving had been done during previous nights, but rain Thursday night forced the contractor to continue work during the day in an effort to finish, Nagel said. Any disruptions involved with the installation of a traffic signal should be more limited, she predicted.

“We may have to interrupt traffic in short, sporadic intervals,” she said. “It doesn’t take long to hang a signal. They’ll have to stop traffic for maybe five minutes.”

In exchange for the inconveniences, drivers should see an improved intersection with new, fully functional signals before the holidays. Designed to enhance safety, the project also includes deceleration lanes for right turns and a center lane for left turns from Highway 80 onto Burkhalter.

“We are anticipating, if weather cooperates with us, having this signal installed and fully operational before Thanksgiving,” Nagel said. “That’s what we’re shooting for, but it’s a tentative schedule.”

In addition to the stop signals for motor traffic, the intersection will get Americans with Disabilities Act crosswalks with button-operated pedestrian signals.

In regard to these, Nagel said it is important to remind drivers that pedestrians in a crosswalk have the right of way. The law requires vehicles to remain stopped until the pedestrian has completely left the roadway.

While slated to install the signal and electronic controls cabinet next week, the Georgia DOT is still working with Georgia Power on getting the permits, Nagel said.

When installed, the signal will operate in a flashing mode for a few days to alert drivers to its presence before it is put into full use, she said.

The state and federally funded project was awarded to Sikes Brothers Inc. on a $610,004 bid. Its official completion date is March 30, 2016. But once the highway signal is installed and operational, further work typically consists of things much less noticeable to drivers, as the DOT and contractor go over a punch list with inspections, Nagel said.

The Georgia DOT has further plans to improve traffic flow and safety between Brooklet and Statesboro and for the residential areas surrounding that section of U.S. 80.

In fact, the work now underway was funded earlier and is separate from a plan that the department unveiled during an information meeting at Brooklet last December. That $5.3 million project will add passing and turn lanes along 3.4 miles of the highway.

Some right-of-way acquisition for that project was scheduled for 2016, with construction possible in 2018.

Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.


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