The widening of Second Avenue is back on the front burner, after an environmental delay connected with the levee.

Initially scheduled for bid in 2016, the estimated $5 million construction project will four-lane a 0.6-mile stretch of the road from the Oostanaula River north to Turner McCall Boulevard.

Part of the work will encroach into the levee, however, and a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is required. Public Services Manager Kirk Milam said Thursday the Georgia Department of Transportation has completed the studies it needs to show that the levee wouldn't be compromised.

A meeting is scheduled in January with engineers in the Corps' Mobile, Alabama, office.

"I'm cautiously optimistic we're close to having the permit," Milam said. "This is the farthest along we've been."

If all goes well, the state could call for bids in mid-2018. The project will take at least a year to complete.

Floyd Medical Center has asked for a traffic signal at West Fifth Street for easier access onto its campus but GDOT has deferred action until the road is widened.

Plans call for two lanes running in each direction, separated by a median that allows for turn lanes into the FMC campus and Heritage Park.

"It will also significantly reconfigure the intersection with Turner Mc- Call," Milam said.

The split in the road will be eliminated. Traffic from the downtown district will be directed straight — onto Martha Berry Boulevard or into turn lanes for Turner Mc- Call or Shorter Avenue.

"It will be a safety improvement and a capacity improvement," Milam said.

The engineering plans are ready and the right-of-way has been under wraps for several years, so the permit is all that's left to secure. Milam said GDOT has preserved the construction funding in its budget — although they won't know until the bids come in if the original cost estimate is still in range.

"But I'm optimistic, and they're obviously committed to making it happen," he said.