Evans, GA (WJBF)—New lanes of traffic are now open after years of construction. Crews have been working since February 2014 widening the roughly 3 mile stretch of River Watch Parkway between Jamaica Court and Baston Road.
There was some slow down on River Watch on Monday as crews collected traffic barrels from the Eastbound lanes opening them up to traffic flow. The Westbound lanes will be cleared on Tuesday. The Georgia Department of Transportation says all four lanes will be open by Tuesday evening.
Drivers told NewsChannel 6’s Ashley Osborne, they are looking forward to this expansion helping their commute.
“Are you excited to see these cones moved?” Ashley asked a driver and passenger stopped at a light on the newly paved part of River Watch Parkway.
The driver points to the passenger as someone who drives this road often. “Absolutely, 100%!” The passenger answered. “The traffic here is usually awful,” he describes.
Another driver said, “I can finally go home and eat lunch now!”
Columbia County’s Engineering Services Director, Steve Cassell says now more people can use River Watch Parkway instead of using Washington Road.
“This is basically going to provide you more options for routes,” Cassel explains. “If we can split the traffic off—how much traffic is going to bleed off of Washington Road— basically, it’s going to reduce trip time and trip length.”
Another driver we talked to says he has been waiting on this option for a while. “It helps to keep me off Washington Road, especially with all the work that is going on Washington Road right now. It’s the best way!” He says now that River Watch is four lanes wide, he will use it instead of Washington to drive between Richmond County and Columbia County.
The Georgia Department of Transportation has been working on the lane widening for a little less than four years. GDOT’s Kyle Collins explains the challenges that slowed them down.
“A lot of what the delays were that pushed us back a few months from when we thought this section might be finished was utility relocation,” Collins explains. “We had a lot of utility providers move their lines, burry them, have to raise them up and that just takes a lot of time and coordination with the construction that’s already going on, not to mention the fact that cars are coming in and out.”
Collins says you should expect delays Monday and Tuesday as they open the lanes. Also, some minor work in the near future. “Some striping and some stuff outside the travel lanes in the coming days and weeks,” says Collins.
Collins says the final phase, the construction at the intersection of River Watch and Washington—will be finished in February 2018. This will help to move traffic around Towne Center Drive and Belair Road as well.