Drivers saw initial signs this week of the long-awaited repairs to the damaged Interstate 95 overpass in Richmond Hill.
Preliminary work at the I-95/Highway 17 interchange began Tuesday and the actual repairs to the exit 87 overpass will start “around Oct. 15,” Georgia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jill Nagel said.
Two lanes of I-95 southbound are scheduled to be closed from 7 p.m. today to 7 a.m. Friday to set up a concrete wall that will be a barrier between work crews and traffic on the interstate.
The contractor’s updated schedule calls for I-95 lane shifts and closures to begin on Oct. 16, Nagel said Tuesday.
Traffic on I-95 southbound will be narrowed from three lanes to two in the construction zone, according to the GDOT. Drivers will use the far left lane and shoulder 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.
At that same time, 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.
In preparation, the Highway 17 southbound left-turn lane onto the I-95 on-ramp was closed for part of Tuesday and Wednesday as workers removed end sections of a concrete median.
“That is to accommodate shifting the northbound traffic over,” Nagel said. “If you left those medians in there, it would be such a sharp turn.”
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.
The contractor, L.C. Whitford of Alpharetta, has 30 days to complete the $1.4 million project. However, crews will work in shifts “around the clock,” Nagel said, in hopes of finishing in two or three weeks.
Nine support beams were damaged when a tractor-trailer became wedged under the overpass on Highway 17 northbound on July 2. Seven of the beams will be replaced, and the other two will be repaired.
The overpass work was to begin in mid-September, but was pushed back by a delay in the manufacturing of the steel beams. The seven replacement beams, each 62 feet long, are scheduled to be delivered to the I-95/Highway 17 interchange on Oct. 15, according to Nagel.
“I’m just so excited the beams are ready,” she said.