More than three years in the making, a major widening of Interstate 75 between Arkwright Road and Pierce Avenue is all but done.
The last major part of work on the widening was completed Friday when crews finished paving Arkwright Road under new bridges, said Kimberly Larson, a Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman. The rest of the interstate is clear now.
About 3.3 miles of I-75 was widened from four lanes to six, with new interchanges and ramps and extensive bridge work along the route.
Pretty much the lanes are open to traffic -- all three lanes in both directions, Larson said.
A state website put the contracted cost of the project at more than $69 million.
Work included a new bridge over Riverview Road, which was completed months earlier than expected; a new interchange along I-75 southbound near the Riverstreet Corners shopping center, not far from Pierce Avenue; and an extensive metal sound barrier near houses on the Ocmulgee River side of the interstate.
All the traffic signals are operating, Larson said, and all the major work is done. Final detail work -- called a punch list -- sometimes lasts a few months, and landscaping will need to wait for spring.
Other than that, it is free-flowing through there, Larson said. I know people will probably be jumping up and down when we get that last barrel pulled out of the way.
Florida-based Prince Contracting started work in August 2010. Work was originally scheduled for completion by May, but several changes lengthened the contract time and added costs. Among them was a change of about $2.7 million and 111 days to increase the height of the sound barrier. Work was to have been completed by last Wednesday.
In time, the widening south toward Pierce Avenue will give way to other widenings and a new interchange with Interstate 16. Larson said construction there could begin in about three years, and the state is already buying rights of way in the area.
The state is also talking with residents in affected neighborhoods. Some historic homes in Pleasant Hill are already purchased and will be moved.
Neighborhoods are also getting asked how their sound barriers should look.
The metal barriers put in place on the Arkwright Road to Pierce Avenue stretch have fallen out of the states favor, and areas closer to the I-75/I-16 interchange are likely to get concrete sound barriers with a stone-like finish.
The just-finished section of Interstate 75 wasnt formally a stage of that new interchange work, but it will support the interchange as well as fast-growing areas in north Bibb, Larson said.
That area needed to be widened out before we can even think about changing that interchange there, Larson said.
To contact writer Mike Stucka, call 744-4251.