Drivers should expect delays next week as grading and other site work begin for construction of a roundabout at Highway 144 and Belfast River Road.
However, the actual paving and striping of the roundabout will not be done until after the Fourth of July weekend, County Administrator Ben Taylor told county commissioners Tuesday night.
“(The contractor) brought up a good point about the additional holiday traffic that July Fourth would bring,” Taylor said.
Though the paving will start later than initially projected, Taylor assured the commissioners the project will be completed by the July 17 deadline the county gave the contractor, Preferred Materials Inc.
“That’s a pretty aggressive schedule,” Commissioner Carter Infinger said.
Commission Chairman Jimmy Burnsed followed, “If they make that, I’ll be surprised.”
The deadline is crucial because two schools – Richmond Hill Middle and the new McAllister Elementary – are near the roundabout. Preplanning for teachers begins July 27.
The contractor understands that, Taylor said. Also, the contract includes financial penalties for Preferred Materials if the work is not completed on time.
“They know the ultimate goal is to be out of there by July 17,” Taylor said. “We stress that.”
The contractor expects the paving to take only three or four days, Taylor told the commissioners. The project engineers, Thomas and Hutton, are “comfortable” with the timetable, he said.
Taylor added that the project is “not terribly complicated.” Preferred Materials’ paving equipment operates on a GPS, he said, and workers are programming the coordinates into the graders this week.
“They’ll do everything they have to do before they pave, and then they’ll just come and pave for about three days,” Taylor said. “Then, they’ll get out of there.”
One lane of traffic will be closed at a time during the road grading, Taylor said. Once the prep work is completed, no further lane closures will be necessary until crews actually pave and stripe the roundabout.
Preferred Materials was awarded with contract with bid of $167,822.The Georgia Department of Transportation will pay $100,000 of the project cost, and the county will cover the rest.