People who regularly drive through a busy Albany interchange are learning more about a major project to overhaul it.
Tuesday, city leaders were briefed on a $12.5 Million Georgia Department of Transportation project that is underway for the next two to two and a half years. Initial work to create a safer Jefferson Street interchange on the Liberty Expressway began Monday.
On Tuesday evening, City Commissioner Ivey Hines and Dougherty County Commissioner Ewell Lyle held a public meeting at the Government Center to clear up some confusion about the project.
The trees being cleared at the end of Philema Road and Jefferson Street are the future pathway of the on and off ramp to the Liberty Expressway. It's part of the G-DOT plan to reconstruct the interchange and improve traffic flow.
"Most people have noticed that yesterday we shut down the park and ride. That will be closed for the duration of the project. We will be building a new one, close location, but that will not occur or be opened up for use until we get closer to the end of the project," said Kimberly Larson, GDOT Communications Officer.
The three existing ramps on the north side of the expressway will eventually be replaced. But planners said restrictions on road closures will minimize impacts to drivers and residents.
"Motorists will always have access through that area. We can only have single lane closures during the week. Multiple lane closures, which would be a double lane closure would only happen on the weekends and at night," Larson said.
And that's good news for business owners.
"The businesses in that area will be accessible on a continuous basis as they are now," said Ivey Hines, City Commissioner.
Exit 5-B that merges traffic on Jefferson Street toward downtown will be the first ramp to be demolished, sometime in the next two or three months. Once it's closed, the off-ramp will on the other side of the road be used as the main exit coming off the expressway. But before any of that will happen, engineers said they're going to install a temporary light right where the exit meets Jefferson Street to improve safety.
"You'll come off the same way you get off now to go north. You'll get off there and come to the light to turn East or West," said Bill Cooper, Albany Area Engineer.
Water, Gas and Light will also move a power line and two water lines during construction.
"There's no use to go in and put a brand new road in and have a failure with a power line or water line and have to dig the road back up so you can repair it," said Jimmy Norman, Light Director.
And plenty of signs will be posted before any work is started
Safety concerns for motorists coming on and off the expressway helped move the project forward. While motorists will always have a way to get through the interchange, planners advise motorists to avoid driving through the area if they can.
Oxford Construction will be performing the work, which is projected to be finished by December 2015.