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Rain Slows, Does Not Stop Progress on Snapfinger Rd.

Wed January 27, 2010 - Southeast Edition
Angela B. Hurni

Despite consistent rain, work is ongoing on the Snapfinger Road widening project in DeKalb County, Ga., and has been for almost a year. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) awarded Pittman Construction Co., Conyers, Ga., the $10.1-million contract to widen Snapfinger Road beginning at Flat Shoals Parkway and extending to Wesley Chapel Road.

Preliminary work on the 2-mi. (3.2 km) long project began January 2009, and relocation of utilities began in spring of this year. The contract includes grading, drainage and resurfacing work as well as the reconstruction of the bridge over Snapfinger Creek. Additionally, an intersection video detection system, which allows traffic signals to communicate with each other, will be installed.

When the project, which is scheduled to be complete in May 2012, is finished, Snapfinger Road will be widened to a four-lane divided roadway with a 20-ft. (6 m) raised median and 4-ft. (120 cm) bike lanes. Additional turn lanes will be constructed as part of this contract, and there will be improvements to existing traffic signals. James “Mickey” McGee, district construction engineer for GDOT’s District 7, also confirmed that there will be “an additional signal at Thompson Mill Road.”

Currently, relocation of utilities is ongoing. “Due to the consistent rain in the last two months, utility workers have been unable to move their poles,” stated GDOT’s Project Update. Workers are waiting for the ground to firm up enough to maintain the poles in addition to being able to support the equipment needed to perform the work.

Vegetation has been cleared on the project site, and storm drains have been installed in various locations throughout the project. Furthermore, work continues on grading and the construction of retaining walls. The bridge over Snapfinger Creek is “50 percent” complete,” said McGee. “We are just adding approximately 12 feet to the existing bridge.” The bridge’s superstructure is concrete and reinforced steel, and it has an aluminum handrail.

Louie Pittman, Pittman Construction’s chairman of the board, described the equipment that the company has on the job site as “Cats, Komatsus, and John Deeres” and dozers and rubber-tired loaders. Specifically, there are Cat motorgraders, Komatsu articulated dump trucks and a Roadtec milling machine. Pittman explained that the company self performs most of the work on the contract and uses subcontractors for “specialty work like guardrails and striping.”

This stretch of Snapfinger Road is a highly residential area with many driveways along the corridor. Also, there are small commercial developments at each end of the project. The biggest challenges on this project so far have been a result of communication issues with nearby residents and businesses or due to weather-related conditions.

McGee confirmed, “Communicating with the local residents along the route and utility relocations” have been challenging.

When finished, the project will improve the safety and operation of the roadway, which serves as a major route to Interstate 20, especially for the residential developments. The improvements also will ease traffic congestion in the area.

In his 2009 State of the County Address, W. Burrell Ellis Jr., DeKalb chief executive officer, explained the significance of the infrastructure improvements occurring in DeKalb County, including the Snapfinger widening project that began this year: “These projects represent tens of millions of federal, state and local dollars in infrastructure investments in DeKalb’s transportation system.”

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