In the spring, Georgia Department of Transportation officials estimated work on Furys Ferry Road could be completed by this month.
Construction continues on Furys Ferry Road. Like many times before, the predicted completion date for the current construction on the road has been delayed.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
As it has several times before, though, the widening project has been delayed.
"We were kind of delayed by some weather," said Vonda Everett, of the DOT, adding that the project is now slated to be finished by the end of this year or possibly January.
Lately, though, Everett said, work on the thoroughfare has been moving more smoothly.
"Because it has been dry in the last few weeks, the weather has been so great, we've been making a lot of progress out there."
The project is designed to widen Furys Ferry Road from River Watch Parkway to Blackstone Camp Road.
The original overall completion deadline for the project's contractor, Reeves Construction, of Thomson, was May 31, 2004. A first segment of the work, from River Watch Parkway to Baston Road, was slated to be finished in August 2003 and was completed in December 2004.
The second phase of work, which has caused some temporary entrance closings to several neighborhoods along Furys Ferry, had its completion date postponed in the spring to August or September - a time frame that is no longer possible.
Within the next month, the Furys Ferry Road entrance to West Lake subdivision will be temporarily closed, officials say. However, an exact date has not been set and will be announced as soon as possible, Everett said. West Lake residents have other entrances
Kevin Lear, the director of Columbia County's Construction and Maintenance Division, said that since work began on Furys Ferry Road in August 2002, many motorists have detoured along Stevens Creek Road, which was closed last year for work up to the bridge near the water-treatment plant. Now that Stevens Creek has reopened, detouring motorists have returned, Lear said.
"We have noticed that the Stevens Creek Road volume is going back up," Lear said. "A lot of people were using that as a bypass before the bridge project and are going back to that."
Adjusting the timing of traffic signals along Furys Ferry Road has kept traffic moving along the two open lanes a little smoother, Lear said.
"I don't want to say it's doing a lot better, but it is a little better," Lear said.
The biggest problem, Lear said, has been the closing of the entrance to Blackstone Camp Road, which occurred about a month ago.
"The problem there is that people are going down Evans to Locks Road to get to Blackstone Camp Road. They are going up Evans to Locks Road and down Old Stevens Creek Road through Point Comfort," Lear said, adding that the additional traffic through the residential area conflicts with construction traffic at River Retreat.
"The contractor and GDOT promised to have it temporarily open and maybe permanently open by the 21st," Lear said. "But they may have to close it again."
Everett said Reeves Construction accrued fines in the form of liquidated damages to keep DOT employees on site past the projected completion date. More than $500,000 in fines, $1,000 a day, on the segment near River Watch Parkway was waived because Reeves asked for a time extension, which was approved because the delays were deemed legitimate.
The company recently submitted a time extension on the second segment of the project through the Augusta field office that would extend through March 31. That request has not been approved, and the contractor would need to submit another one extending through the end of the year and have it approved before the $600-a-day fees can be waived, Everett said, adding she does not know the total amount of accrued fees.
Either way, Everett said, the project is now progressing smoothly.
"We're making a lot of progress because of the weather and we're looking good right now," she said.
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