Georgia Department of Transportation officials have run across some stumbling blocks in the widening of Interstate 75 at Cloud Springs Road but say they now are on track to complete the nearly 2-year-old project by the end of the year.
"Right now we are shooting to finish on schedule," said Robby Roberson, assistant area engineer in construction for GDOT's Dalton, Ga., office. "We're in the final phase right now."
The 0.93-mile widening project began in September 2007 to reduce congestion at one of North Georgia's busiest interchanges. Complications abounded when construction teams realized they would have to relocate many underground utility lines, GDOT spokesman Dr. Mohamed Arafa said.
The original end date was pushed from October to December this year, he said.
Now weather seems to be the only factor that could cause further delays, Dr. Arafa said. The next phase of construction -- the relocation of Pine Grove Access Road and Larry Drive -- should begin on time Monday, he said.
Unfortunately, that means additional road closures will affect local residents for an estimated six weeks, according to Dr. Arafa.
That doesn't sit well with some residents, including Larry Drive resident Allen Yates.
Construction in the area has "sure been a mess" so far, Mr. Yates said. Road detours and interruptions in water service related to the project have been a great inconvenience, he said.
The closure will mean more trouble because he'll have to wind around on back roads to leave his neighborhood.
"Boy, we've been through it," Mr. Yates said with a sigh. "I don't know if it'll be worth it in the end or not. But there isn't nothing we can do, I reckon, but put up with it."
Mr. Roberson recognized the inconvenience to residents but said he believes everyone will be glad once the project is complete.
"It'll be a tremendous improvement," Mr. Roberson said.
In the meantime, GDOT is doing everything possible to make the closures bearable for residents, Dr. Arafa said.
"We'll put signs out to help commuters to navigate the area," he said.