Warner Robins, Houston officials celebrate Corder Road project completion

WARNER ROBINS -- The Corder Road widening project delayed motorists one last time Wednesday.

City and county officials heralded the completion by having police stop traffic briefly for a ribbon cutting.

The $3.8 million project was funded by the 2001 and 2006 special purpose local option sales taxes. It widened the road from two lanes to three for 1.9 miles from Watson Boulevard to Russell Parkway and added a sidewalk.

About 60 people attended the ceremony in front of Shirley Hills Baptist Church. The Rev. Andy Cook said when he was hired, he was warned that the widening project was coming and would likely create a mess in front of the church. That was 1997.

Work actually didn’t begin until about 13 years later, but Cook said it has been worth the wait. The road actually opened about a month ago, and he said it has made a big difference.

“From the day that it opened, we noticed immediately it’s just a much better road for the purposes of safety,” he said.

The project was originally conceived in 1995, said Houston County Commission Chairman Tommy Stalnaker. The state earmarked $2 million for it, he said, but the state also insisted it should be a five-lane road, based on growth projections.

Local leaders didn’t want it to be a five-lane road because it would have swallowed up too much property, and they really didn’t want that much traffic coming through what is largely a residential area.

That led to years of delay until one day in 2009, when acting Warner Robins Mayor John Havrilla and then-Councilman Terry Horton came to the county with a proposal. Stalnaker said they wanted to see the project completed and thought the only way to do it would be to shun the state money and go forward with it as a local project.

The county agreed, and that marked a turning point. From that day forward, Stalnaker said, the project began to move, and construction started in October 2010. The contractor, Georgia Asphalt, finished it ahead of the Jan. 17, 2013, deadline and ahead of the Aug. 3 deadline to earn a bonus for early completion.

“This is a prime example of how, when we work together, we can accomplish any goal,” said Warner Robins Mayor Chuck Shaheen.

Houston County Director of Operations Robbie Dunbar said there is still some cosmetic work left to be done on the road.

To contact writer Wayne Crenshaw, call 256-9725.