I-75 gets six lanes through S. Georgia - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

I-75 gets six lanes through S. Georgia

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Tifton- When stuck in traffic on Interstate 75, additional lanes are exactly what most motorists are hoping for. The Department of Transportation is making that a reality, but it won't be a quick fix. Widening I-75 will take about 5 years.

There's rarely a time when you see Interstate 75 without any orange barrels, and they'll be lined up along the stretch between Cordele and Valdosta for a while.

"The volumes that they expected back them in the mid-50's when they were designing it, they could not comprehend what we've got here today," says DOT district construction engineer Joe Cowan. "They were probably designed for 20,000 vehicles a day. We already have about 45,000 vehicles a day on an average day and we're projecting that to go up in the next 20 years to about 67,000 vehicles a day, so obviously four lanes won't handle it."

That's why DOT is expanding the entire 85-mile stretch to six lanes, a project they hope to have completely underway by 2007.

There are several projects already in the works. Bridge rehabilitation projects temporarily shut down ramps in Tift County, but the last one is just days away from completion.

"We expect the work where the ramps are closed now will be ahead of schedule. We're hoping first part of next week," Cowan says.

In Valdosta, a project spanning north to the Cook County line is already 85% complete.

"We hope to have that project complete hopefully by the end of this year if weather holds and we don't have four hurricanes like we did last year," Cowan says.

To cut down on delays during the widening project, DOT crews will complete most of the work during the night, and lane and ramp closures will also be limited to off-peak travel hours.

DOT officials are is also urging motorists to do their part by slowing down in construction zones. They say two-thirds of all work-zone fatalities are motorists, not transportation workers. As always fines will be increased in those zones.

For real-time information about delays and DOT construction projects going on throughout the state call *DOT (*368) or log on to www.georgia-navigator.com/construction.

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