Travelers of Ga. 151 (Alabama Highway) in Ringgold will soon have a slightly new traffic pattern to navigate for the rest of the year as construction crews begin working on the road's bridges beginning Friday, Feb. 16.
Last year crews began working on a nearly $35 million widening project for the road, extending a little more than two miles from U.S. Highway 41 to the Rollins Industrial Park at Holcomb Road.
Residents have been curious for the past few days after seeing flashing traffic signs along the route displaying notice of the pending work.
According to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT), the new traffic patterns are due to the construction taking place on the two bridges along the highway — one that passes over Chickamauga Creek near Walgreen's, and the I-75 overpass bridge at the 348 exit.
The change is supposed to take effect Friday, Feb. 16, weather permitting, and is expected to last up to a year.
"For those traveling south on State Route (SR) 151 from Hwy 41 both north and southbound, traffic will be shifted approximately 10 to 12 feet to the east in order to perform stage 1 bridge construction on the bridge over Little Chickamauga Creek," explained Mohamed Arafa, public relations manager for GDOT. "Southbound traffic on SR 151 will then shift back to the west side of the roadway near the intersection of Lafayette Street and Boynton Drive in order to perform the roadway construction work in the now grass median area."
Arafa says the flow along the I-75 overpass bridge will also impact the entry and exit ramps for exit 348.
"Also, for traffic on both the south- and northbound lanes, the I-75 off-ramps will be shifted to the right," Arafa said. "Traffic turning left from these ramps onto SR 151 in both directions will be shifted to where the concrete island previously existed (the islands have already been removed and temporary asphalt installed to accommodate this shift.). Construction on the bridge over I-75 has already begun and the shift will extend the construction zones on both sides of the bridge for work on bridge end bent and approach slab. Both traffic patterns will be in place for the entirety of stage 1 construction, which is expected to take 9-12 months to complete."
While it may create some congestion for motorists, the work is part of a huge project designed to ultimately remedy flow issues that have plagued the road for years. The widening of the road will alleviate a lot of the holdups near the 348 exit, as well as the ones at Poplar Springs Road.
The project as a whole is slated to be completed in a little less than three years.
"Work on this project began late June 2017," Arafa said. "The entire project is expected to be completed by the end of December 2020, at a construction cost of $34,596,916."
For the duration of the bridge work, GDOT hopes that drivers will be conscious of the changes, and be patient as the project develops.
"We certainly hope that all motorists watch out for these traffic shifts and be extra cautious while approaching this work zone," Arafa said. "We understand that this project may be causing the public some inconvenience, but upon completion, it will improve the flow of traffic in the area, make it safer, and help the public get where they need to go Ringgold and in Catoosa County."