It’s a new year, but still more roadwork lies ahead on a heavily traveled corridor in north Columbus that has been ground zero for a major construction project for more than four years.
The project that has lingered and caused major inconvenience for those living, doing business and going to school on north Veterans Parkway enters 2019 with yet more paving that will close lanes in both directions for weeks.
The Georgia Department of Transportation said Thursday the lane closures will begin Monday and continue through the month of January on a stretch of Veterans Parkway, or U.S. Hwy. 27, from Tower Road to Hancock Road.
Motorists are being advised to expect delays and drive with caution as the parkway is reduced to one lane in each direction to allow crews to lay asphalt along the expanded roadway.
Penny Brooks, communications officer with GDOT’s District 3, which includes Columbus, said there is no indication if the paving through January will bring completion to the road construction in the area.
“Because our contractor isn’t sure how the weather will go this month and if there could be further delays, they’re not giving a specific end date for that portion of the project. It could be longer,” Brooks said Thursday via email. “Wish I could be more specific, but that’s what we have. We are indeed at the ‘end stages,’ but we don’t have an exact end date.”
The $14.2 million road expansion project dates back to October 2014. That’s when Columbus-based general contractor McMath-Turner Construction received notice from the state transportation department to move forward with the work. The company has missed deadlines for completion. It was expected to wrap up late last summer after paving that the GDOT thought would finish things up.
On the other hand, 2018 was one of the rainiest in years for the Columbus area, according to the National Weather Service, which could slow outdoor projects of any type. Columbus had 66.4 inches of rain for the year, with nearly 8 inches of that in December. That compares to 70 inches in Atlanta, 69.2 inches in Athens and slightly more than 49 inches in Macon.
GDOT traffic counts show that more than 16,000 vehicles move through the heart of the construction zone on Veterans Parkway on any given day. Just south of the intersection with Moon and Williams roads, the count rises to more than 19,000 vehicles daily, with the total count climbing as Veterans Parkway flows southward and nears J.R. Allen Parkway and its major intersection, as well as the Columbus Park Crossing shopping and restaurant hub.
The north Veterans Parkway construction zone includes three schools — Northside High, Veterans Memorial Middle and North Columbus Elementary — as well as an increasing amount of residential housing to include apartment complexes. Some residents of Harris County also travel along the parkway each day for work or shopping, with the entire mix of uses creating traffic congestion in the mornings and late afternoons.
McMath-Turner also was the primary contractor on the widening of Whittlesey Road between Whitesville Road and Veterans Parkway, a project that began in 2012, but also shot past its original timeline, eventually being fully completed in early 2017.