Repairs to the damaged Interstate 95 overpass at exit 87 in Richmond Hill have been delayed and now aren’t expected to begin until mid-October, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
The GDOT and its contractor for the project are still waiting on the seven support beams that are being manufactured to replace the damaged ones, GDOT District Communications Officer Jill Nagel said last week.
“We can’t do anything until we have the beams,” Nagel said. “The contractor is ready to go. We’re ready to go. We’re just waiting on the beams.”
The $1.4 million contract to repair the overpass was awarded to L.C. Whitford of Alpharetta on July 28. Nagel said she didn’t know which steel company the contractor is using to produce the beams, which are 62 feet long each.
“This company already had orders they were working on, and then this order came in,” she said.
Nagel estimated that equipment and materials will be brought to the I-95/Highway 17 interchange in the first or second week of October. The work contract is for 30 days, but the GDOT is “hoping it’ll be completed in two or three weeks” after it starts, Nagel said.
“They’re going to be working basically around the clock in shift work,” she said.
The right lane of northbound Highway 17 at the I-95 interchange has been closed since the overpass was damaged by a tractor-trailer on July 2. Traffic congestion will worsen during the repairs, as Highway 17 will be limited to one lane in each direction.
Both northbound lanes of Highway 17 will be closed at the I-95 interchange once the work begins, according to Nagel. One southbound lane will be converted to a northbound lane.
Drivers on southbound I-95 still will be able to use exit 87. However, once they come down the exit ramp to Highway 17, they will be allowed only to turn right toward Richmond Hill.
“It’s the best way we can do without having to shut down Highway 17 northbound,” Nagel said.
Traffic on I-95 southbound will be reduced from three lanes to two in the construction zone, according to the GDOT. Drivers will use the far left lane and shoulder of the road while workers replace the support beams underneath the middle and right lanes, Nagel said.
Once that work is finished, the traffic flow will shift to the right while crews replace the beams on the left side of I-95 southbound. The speed limit will drop to 60 mph in the work zone, Nagel said.
“All of this is confined to that bridge area (of I-95 at exit 87),” Nagel said.
The holdup with the beam manufacturing is the latest delay since a tractor-trailer hit the overpass on July 2. The excavator that was loaded on the driver’s flatbed trailer was too high to clear the overpass and became wedged underneath it on northbound Highway 17.
Nagel’s initial estimate was that the right lane of Highway 17 would be closed for “the next three to four weeks.” The GDOT then announced last month that the overpass repairs were expected to start in mid-September.
“I know everyone is irritated,” Nagel said. “This is another example why we ask people to be careful and pay attention. None of this would be happening if someone had taken the time to make sure the (truck’s) boom was down.”
Nine support beams on the overpass were damaged, according to the GDOT. Along with the seven beams that will be replaced, two will be kept in place and repaired.