After months of construction and traffic delays, the road at exit 87 in Richmond Hill is finally clear.
The Interstate 95 overpass there, which was damaged in a vehicular accident this summer, is fully repaired and back to normal, according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.
GDOT District Communications Officer Jill Nagel said the final inspection was done about noon Friday, and all work ordered in the contract was found to be completed.
“We are not out there any longer,” she said.
The contractor, L.C. Whitford of Alpharetta, was given 30 days to complete the $1.4 million project, beginning Oct. 5. However, work was completed about a week ahead of schedule.
“With the contractor working around the clock doing shift work, that expedited a lot of things,” Nagel said. “As did weather. We didn’t have too many weather delays.
Already a busy area with traffic on Highway 17 and coming off the interstate, exit 87 became even tighter for drivers in July. The right lane of Highway 17 North had been closed since the I-95 overpass was hit by a tractor-trailer July 2. Nine support beams were damaged when an excavator that was loaded on the truck’s flatbed trailer became wedged underneath the bridge.
The left lane of Highway 17 north also was shut down once the repairs began, and one southbound lane was converted to northbound. Meanwhile, lanes intermittently were closed on I-95 as workers replaced seven of the damaged beams and repaired the other two.
That led the GDOT to issue suggested alternate routes, such as taking exit 90 to reach southbound Highway 17.
Delays in the start of repair work also caused frustration.
It initially was believed that repair work would begin shortly after the accident in July. However, in early August, the GDOT announced that repairs were set to begin in mid-September “due to the fabrication time of the steel substructure to the specific specifications needed for this project,” Nagel said at the time. Then, in mid-September, the GDOT said repairs wouldn’t begin until mid-October because it and the contractor were still waiting on seven support beams that were being manufactured to replace the ones damaged in the crash.