The first phase of the Bankhead Highway beautification project is expected to be completed by October after several rainy days this spring delayed the work.
Carrollton City Engineer Tommy Holland said that the coronavirus pandemic also had an indirect impact on the schedule, even though construction workers were considered essential during the shelter-in-place emergency order.
The first phase of this project began in August 2019 and is significantly changing a 2,200-foot section of Bankhead Highway west of the city from Cedar Street to Thomas Newell Way.
The “road diet” — like someone wanting to lose inches off their waist — narrows the roadway from its current five lanes to three, including a center turn lane. It will also add pedestrian and landscaping improvements to that section.
“We were hampered a lot the end of last year and the beginning of this year with the extensive amount of rain and it limited our workdays,” Holland said. “They are probably behind where they thought they would be due to all the rainfall through that time. It’s starting to progress and over the next couple of weeks, it will start showing more so.”
Holland said the original timetable was to have the work done in early to mid-summer and added the contractor had a time limit of one year to complete the project.
Most of the demolition work along this section of Bankhead has been completed and the stormwater drainage pipes have been installed, Holland said. New traffic signals are being worked on for two intersections along Bankhead at Thomas Newell Way and Cedar Street.
He said the “biggest issue” was having to cross Bankhead and Cedar Street to install stormwater infrastructure. He said motorists should expect delays because the signals are operating on a timed schedule instead of the volume of traffic.
“Once we get everything in place, the traffic signals will be able to adjust a little bit better to the flow of traffic,” Holland said. “At this time, we pretty much have to leave it on a set pattern. At times, that doesn’t work well, and traffic volumes have increased.”
Holland said this phase of the project has a price tag of $2.7 million and was awarded to Marietta-based Baldwin Paving. That company has spent about $980,000 of the contract, he said.
While the city received a $1.5 million grant from the Georgia Road and Tollway Authority in 2018, the remaining money will come from the city’s reserves and potentially out of its SPLOST funds.
Additional work will still need to be done to relocate utilities and traffic signals, as well as landscaping, which city officials say carries a price tag of $720,000.
“A big chunk of that will come toward the end with the asphalt and resurfacing,” Holland said. “Time-wise it’s probably more than 40%, but that’s how much has been spent.”
The project has drawn criticism from community members such as Dr. Brent Harris, owner of the US MedClinic at 714 Cedar St. Harris has said the project will slow down traffic along Bankhead, leading to longer wait times at traffic lights.
Holland added there have been no talks about the second phase of this project, and city officials want to eventually beautify all of Bankhead from Cedar Street to the Carrollton Bypass.
“Depending on how the weather goes, it will be early fall or closer to October the way it’s progressing at this time,” he said.