For a lot of folks, the end of this year can’t come fast enough – and that’s certainly understandable. But I think it’s important to look back and know that, despite all the challenges and tough times we endured in 2020, plenty was also accomplished. I’m proud that Bryan County, as a community, was able to band together, follow the proper health guidelines to keep residents safe and healthy, support our local businesses, and keep schools open.
As a government, the county forged ahead with plans and projects that had been in the works for years. We knew that there could be no break from serving our community and proceeding with much-needed infrastructural developments, some of which were well on their way to being finished when COVID-19 hit. A few of the bigger transportation- oriented projects are in the final stages of progress and I’m sure a lot of residents are wondering about the completion timelines. So, I thought there would be no better way to close out the year than with an update on things like the I-95/Belfast Keller Interchange, the 144 widening, and several intersection improvements in North Bryan County.
Regarding the 144 widening, the project is expected to be complete in the spring of 2021. In the short term, GDOT will soon finish clearing, grubbing and performing perimeter grade work; placing the remainder of the base course of asphalt between Fort McAllister Road and the spur; working on sections of the roundabout in preparation of the next traffic shift; and grading the front, back, and median sections in preparation for grass next season. In the long term, works will be placing the binder course of asphalt throughout the entirety of project and putting traffic in its final configuration (this will be done with one lane in each direction until all work is completed). Also, the lighting and signal updates will be finished at the Timber Trail roundabout.
GDOT cautions motorists should expect some delays on 144 in the coming weeks as flagging operations are put in place to allow workers to finish the final sections of the median curb. And on Port Royal Road, there may be small delays as the alignment is changed. Sometime early next year, GDOT will shift out of the current alignment into one lane in each direction to do the final alignment on 144.
Regarding the I-95/Belfast Keller Interchange, GDOT hopes to have that finished and the bridge open very close to the end of 2020 or in early 2021 at the latest – weather permitting. Most work has been finished at this point. When we have an exact date, the county will announce plans for a celebratory ribbon-cutting event to make if official.
The 144 roundabout project near the I-95 interchange will be complete in late spring of 2021. Crews are currently in construction phase 2A out of 4 phases. Right now, Reeves Construction Company is working on I-95 southbound side and once they finish that side, will move to the I-95 northbound side.
In North Bryan, several projects are in the works, including some intersection improvements. The Wilma Edwards Road roundabout project on US 280 will be designed and constructed in partnership with GDOT. It is currently in the conceptual planning stage and will move into preliminary design the first part of 2021. With the continued growth occurring in North Bryan in the vicinity of the I-16 interchange, there will be a need for improvements at the intersection of US 28O and Oracal Parkway in the near future. The initiation and type of project will be dependent upon study findings and meeting minimum state requirements for project implementation. As with the roundabout project, this project will be designed and constructed in partnership with GDOT as well.
As all of the aforementioned projects wrap up or continue their momentum, please drive carefully and exercise caution in all areas of construction. Progress may cause minor inconveniences, but we know that in the long run, it’ll certainly all be worth it!
Infinger is chairman of the Bryan County Commission.