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The lane shifting, orange-barrel maze on Interstate 75 south of Chattanooga isn't going away anytime soon.

But officials say at least part of the construction along Catoosa County's stretch of interstate should be finished in 2010.

Two phases of the three-phase project could face slight delays, said Fort Oglethorpe Mayor Ronnie Cobb.

"The first time we met with them was in 1996 and it was going to be finished in 1999," Mr. Cobb noted.

Funding, easement acquisition and other issues have delayed the project over the years, he said.

Records show the $32.7 million improvement projects at Cloud Springs Road and I-75 widens Cloud Springs from the interstate to U.S. Highway 41 and also in the other direction to Lakeview Drive. The project includes improvements at the interstate exits in both directions and bridge improvements where I-75 passes over Cloud Springs Road.

Work on the bridges and on Cloud Springs Road between the interstate and U.S. 41 is "running pretty close to schedule" for completion early in 2010, Mr. Cobb said. Work on Cloud Springs between the interstate and Lakeview Drive could continue until summer, he said.

Mr. Cobb said he hopes the state continues to improve the Lakeview Drive end of the area, where inbound traffic bottles up. Cloud Springs Road is also known as state Route 146, so the state is responsible for upkeep and improvements.

David Spear, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, said motorists will find orange barrels in the area for most of the coming year.

"As far as closures, there will be some periodic lane closures and traffic shifts in this area as the work progresses but shouldn't be anything too impactful to traffic flows on either road," Mr. Spear said.

"We're shooting for July 6 completion, but that will depend on how long it stays cold this winter and how wet the spring is," he said.

Construction on the projects began in late 2007, he said.

Fort Oglethorpe resident Reshae Massey, who drives through the construction zone regularly, said she'll be glad to see an end to the road work.

"It seems like they've been working on it for 15 years now," laughed Mrs. Massey, 21.

More seriously, though, she said the section of road makes her nervous.

"It just kind of stresses me out because it's so stop-and-go, and people don't pay attention," she said.

Catoosa County Commissioner Jim Cutler, on the other hand, praised the contractor for keeping problems to a minimum.

"They've kept the traffic moving very freely," said Mr. Cutler, a frequent construction zone driver.

"Other than the occasional accident, I've not had any real problems with it," he said. "It'll be nice when they get finished though."

Once the project is complete, Mr. Cutler hopes "those orange drums will be a distant memory," he said.

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