Downtown drivers will have several more painful months ahead of them as crews prepare to close part of 15th Street next week.
A small stretch of the busy road -- which handles more than 14,000 cars a day -- will be barricaded starting Tuesday as work crews move into the final stages of the downtown St. Sebastian Way extension project.
The work will happen between 15th Street's intersections with Broad and Greene streets.
The bulk of the hospital traffic will travel a roundabout detour up Broad Street to a portion of the new St. Sebastian Way extension and back down Greene Street, according to Richmond County Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell. The closure could last as long as five months, which would push the project past the expected completion date of July 31.
"It will start Tuesday sometime after morning rush hour," Cassell said.
Crews will replace the surface of the small brick bridge at 15th and Broad and add a right-turn lane to Broad Street, according to Eddie Spry, of Sunbelt Structures. Spry said the brick sides and basic structure of the bridge would be preserved.
"We're not going to touch the structure under the bridge because it's historical," Spry said.
This comes after crews closed a portion of Broad Street for several weeks and a four-month closure of Walton Way at St. Sebastian Way last year.
Officials said it would be the last major closure of downtown streets until the work is finished in July.
Plans for the St. Sebastian Way Extension have been in the works for decades. It is planned as a fusion of existing downtown roadways and new flyover ramps in order to move traffic from River Watch Parkway to the city's medical centers without the hassle of downtown train crossings.
As part of the $21 million project, crews have already realigned Walton Way and St. Sebastian Way to meet the new road. They continue to build a new bridge over the canal near Enterprise Mill and new ramps leading from River Watch Parkway.