With water and sewer mains completed, the city’s $1.85 million, multifaceted project on Savannah Avenue remains on schedule for a June 19 completion date, says Stateboro’s city engineer. But motorists and residents should expect more disruptions yet.
“Right now the contractor is just finishing up tying the new water line into all the services and laterals,” said City Engineer Brad Deal. “So during April he’ll be working on the islands that are going in the center of the road, and after that, which will probably be into May, they will be starting to work on, maybe, paving it.”
Also yet to be done, probably in that last phase, will be completion of a new traffic light system at the intersection on Savannah Avenue and Zetterower Avenue. The new signal system uses cameras instead of buried cables to sense the presence of vehicles. Before the project is finished, the signal lights will be mounted on mast arms on decorative black poles.
Spanning a little less than one mile along Savannah Avenue, the roadwork includes the addition of central islands to slow car traffic and shield pedestrians, as well as crosswalks, new sidewalks, and in the last stage, repaving. The rough asphalt surface of the street will be milled down to the older concreate roadbed underneath and replaced with a new asphalt top layer.
In the phase already mostly completed, a new water main was installed, beneath a new sidewalk, so that the city can abandon the old water main that runs beneath the avenue.
The old terra cotta sewer main also remains in place, but a subcontractor snaked a liner through it. Cured in place, the liner in effect becomes a new pipeline in the path of the old one.
Recent optical fiber installation in the same area is not part of the city project, but was undertaken by a private company.
For the water and sewer work and sidewalk installation, segments of the street have been closed periodically. But the contractor was able to limit some closures to a single lane, and some portions, such as those requiring water to be shut off, were done at night, Deal said.
That won’t be possible for the traffic islands and crosswalks construction, he said, because Savannah Avenue is mainly a residential street and night work would wake people up. So drivers should expect daytime detours, most likely to Grady Street.
“The contractor will make sure that everybody can get in and out of their houses, but as far as through traffic, they will be detoured,” Deal said.
Drivers who have used Savannah Avenue as a shortcut to and from downtown will need to get used to a new reality anyway. The nine islands, three of which will be cut by crosswalks, are meant to calm traffic and make the area more pedestrian-friendly, not facilitate a quick transit by car.
A traffic study showed that the 85th percentile speed on the street is 37 mph, meaning that 15 percent of drivers were going at least seven miles per hour faster than the posted 30 mph speed limit. The goal is to bring the 85th percentile speed, often used as a safety indicator by traffic planners, closer to the posted limit, Deal said in an interview last fall.
“The islands are intended to slow the traffic down, for traffic calming,” he said this week.
Signs, but not electronic signals, will warn drivers of the pedestrian crossings. An optional item in the bid would have provided crosswalks made of a faux brick material like that at West Main-College Street intersection, but unless the city finds an additional $27,000 for this work, the crosswalks will be painted stripes on the asphalt instead.
Island construction, with detours possible, will most likely begin the week of April 11-16, Deal said.
City Council awarded the of $1,847,792 general contract to Southeastern Civil Inc., based in Statesboro, last August, and the city issued a notice to proceed Sept 23. The projected completion time was 270 days.
Southeastern’s bid was the lowest of four received and $100,000 less than the engineers’ original cost estimate of $1.95 million. Hussey, Gay, Bell Engineering and Parker Engineering both did design work for the project. The funding comes from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax through two city departments, Engineering-Public Works and Water-and-Sewer.
Herald reporter Al Hackle may be reached at (912) 489-9458.