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Weather again delays I-985 project
South Hall highway work now likely to be done in 4 to 6 weeks
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Daniel Reagin of E.R. Snell Contractor spreads concrete into the path that will be used for the cable barrier along the stretch of Interstate 985 near Exit 16. - photo by Tom Reed

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Teri Pope, district spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Transportation, gives an update on Interstate 985 construction work in South Hall.

Maybe it was a jinx of some kind.

A two-year drought enabled the Georgia Department of Transportation this summer to set an earlier completion date for finishing work on Interstate 985 in South Hall. Instead of February 2010, the work could be finished by Labor Day.

Then the rains — and last week, some heavy downpours — set in.

The completion date was later reset to early October. And now, district spokeswoman Teri Pope is saying the work may be finished in four to six weeks.

“The rain has definitely impacted us. You not only can’t work while it’s raining, but with the deep, penetrating rains we’ve had, it’s been difficult to work at all,” Pope said.

“We’re needing three to four days of dry weather so that the ground can dry up enough for us to be able to work effectively.”

The DOT has been working on the $75 million reconstruction of I-985 at Exit 16 for three years, a project that has entailed rebuilding the bridge over Ga. 53/Mundy Mill Road, widening Mundy Mill Road and Atlanta Highway, and building an interchange at Atlanta Highway.

Also involved in the massive project is the construction of a leg of the four-lane Thurmon Tanner Parkway between Atlanta Highway and Mundy Mill Road. Another leg is being built now; when finished, the parkway will run from Atlanta Highway to Phil Niekro Boulevard in Flowery Branch.

Most of the work is done, particularly along I-985’s northbound lanes, where the speed limit has resumed at 70 mph.

Crews now are installing cable barrier along the median through the construction area, the last segment of I-985 remaining in a project that began last year, Pope said. The series of steel cables are designed to prevent cars from traveling across the median and hitting a vehicle going in the opposite direction.

Tuesday was the first day crews were able to work on the project because the ground has been so saturated.

In other work this week, crews are on the shoulders doing joint work, sealing concrete and making sure grades are correct, Pope said.

Also, workers will be redoing and installing “rumble strips,” a series of bumps on the road that alerts motorists when they have left the roadway.

“When we get all of that finished, then we’ll be able to shift I-985 southbound (lanes) back to (their) original location,” Pope said.

“When we get that shifted back, then we’ll be able to open that last little ramp from Atlanta Highway to I-985 southbound.”

Also, workers will be able to open a second left-turn lane from Mundy Mill Road onto I-985 southbound.

“Then, that’ll pretty well be it for the project, except for punch-list items,” Pope said.

Weather permitting, of course.

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