Crews on River Watch Parkway are working to get everything ready for the influx in visitors for next month’s Masters Tournament that will require a week-long halt in an ongoing construction project.
“We’re at a good stopping point,” said Tim Knight, construction project engineer for the Georgia Department of Transportation/TIA office.
If there had been bad weather or other delays, it might not be as easy to stop construction and re-open the roads for a week, he said. So far, the project has remained on schedule.
On Monday, crews continued to move the concrete barriers that blocked inside lanes of traffic in both directions. They were replaced with orange cones for now, but all lanes should be open to traffic by Monday or Tuesday.
The $9.2 million project, which was awarded to Beam’s Contracting, started in October with the installation of a new drainage system, but it wasn’t until January that lanes were closed to traffic to replace the existing guardrail with a concrete barrier wall in the median. Knight said the wall will make the road safer and allow for median lighting.
“I know that was a big concern,” Knight said of the decision to add lights to the roadway. “I noticed when we started how dark and dangerous it is out here.”
There are estimated to be about 200 median lights, or one every 100 or so feet, that will be added in the 4-mile stretch of River Watch Parkway from 15th Street to River Shoals Parkway.
The lights have yet to be installed but the wiring is in place for work crews once construction begins post-Masters. The tournament’s final round is April 10.
Knight said the inside lanes will again be closed so crews can safety finish the lighting. He anticipated the lighting project should last about 30 days.
After that crews will start replacing the guardrail on outside lanes, do grading work on the curves to increase sight distance and then repave and re-stripe the road.
Knight said the River Watch project has not been any more difficult than other local road projects, but acknowledged that the speed of drivers in the construction zone has been a concern.
“It’s almost like working on the interstate,” he said.
The speed limit has been reduced to 45, but drivers continue to hit speeds he suspect are close to 70.
The project is expected to continue through the summer, in conjunction with other nearby projects that include upgrades to the Interstate 20 intersections and ramps off of River Watch Parkway and a paving project on the road to the Columbia County line.