Construction continues along a major section of I-475 through Central Georgia’s Monroe and Bibb counties to widen the route from two lanes in each direction to three lanes, said Todd Handley, a project engineer with the Georgia Department of Transportation.
The $69-million project began mid-1999 and has an estimated completion date of October 2001. In addition to widening the 22.5-kilometer (14 mi.) stretch, the project also calls for the installation of an advanced traffic management system which will include radar detectors and video cameras and changeable message signs. The message signs can warn drivers of accidents or traffic delays on the highway ahead and give estimated travel times to other highways and exits.
Also, a video protection system will allow the DOT to determine traffic flow and the volume and speed of traffic.
“It’s similar to what they have in Atlanta,” Handley said. Many of the traffic management systems were installed in Atlanta prior to the Olympic games to assist with the onslaught of traffic the event would bring to the already traffic-heavy city.
The I-475 project was necessary because of “future volume and future work planned for I-75 in Macon,” said Handley. The future project will involve the widening of I-75 on the north side of Macon and will begin in the next few years, he said.
The primary contractor for the current project is Douglas Asphalt Company of Douglas, GA, and Mark Polo is the project supervisor at the helm of this project.
Prior to beginning the paving process, the job required Douglas and some of the 12 subcontractors on the job to perform concrete rehab along the entire stretch of I-475.
“We had to take out all the broken slabs and seal the joints with a fabric seal,” he said of the 30.5 centimeter (12 in.) wide polyguard strip with an asphalt backing which they placed across joints to prevent cracking.
The job calls for 560,000 tons of asphalt and the same amount of graded aggregate base to widen the lanes.
Also included in the project is the electrical contract to install the cameras, detectors and message boards, said Polo. The 16 off-site locations for the equipment will all hook up to the hub building to be located at Exit 3 — formerly Exit 1 — at Eisenhower Parkway.
“It’s really the same state-of-the-art system going into all major cities,” he said. Among the 12 subcontractors assisting with the project are Cable Consultants and R. J. Haney, both of which are doing electrical work on the new systems being installed.
Another aspect of the project is the 14 bridges along the route which had to be raised and/or repaired with the assistant of subcontractors including Gilbert Southern and Bellamy Bros.
Sheets Construction, also a subcontractor, is responsible for replacing the guardrail for the entire project, said Polo.
In addition to widening the route and adding two lanes, Douglas Asphalt also will oversee installation of 59,000 feet of median barrier wall as well.
This sounds like a large order overall, but the DOT has one of its top contractors on the job again. A family-owned company, Douglas Asphalt does about 90 percent of its work under contract with the DOT, said Ronnie Spivey, one of the company owners.
“We’ve done several interstate projects for them now, beginning in about 1994 or 1995 with the project in Perry,” he said, for which the company received a state award.
For another DOT project — a 20-mile build and inlay in Dalton, GA, starting at the state line between Tennessee and Georgia — Douglas Asphalt received both a state award and a NAPA award, confirming their excellence in the field.
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