Valdosta Daily Times

December 29, 2013

New overpass ahead of schedule

Matthew Woody
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — On the southside of Valdosta, it was not uncommon for motorists to be stopped at the train tracks on Hill Avenue anywhere from five to 20 minutes. Now, motorists have been anticipating the completion of the West Hill Avenue Overpass which will allow traffic to flow smoothly over the tracks.

“It is wildly popular. People have been screaming for it for years. Downtown Valdosta can be cut off from the rest of the world going east and west by a single train,” said Mike Carmichael, construction project manager 2 for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

This project is one year away from completion, and it will cost $9.7 million. The contract will expire Dec. 31, 2014, but construction is moving faster than expected. Brian Starling, assistant area engineer for Valdosta’s GDOT, said the construction is 20 percent ahead of schedule.

“The project is expected to be completed before the current completion date of Dec. 31, 2014 and should not need an

extension for project time,” Starling said. “If unexpected circumstances arise warranting a time extension, such as excessive amounts of inclement weather, unforeseen need for extra work, etc., then the need to extend the project time could become a possibility; but that is unlikely to occur at this stage of the project.”

At the end of February 2013, 11 percent of the funds were spent in 18 percent of the time, and at the end November, 53 percent of the current authorized funds have been spent and 51 percent of the current project time has been used.

Construction is progressing at a rapid pace, but in no way is quality being passed over.

“The strength of the concrete is well above average. It’s exceptional. Better concrete means a longer lifetime. It means more savings in maintenance. It means a bridge won’t have to be replaced as soon,” Carmichael said. “It’s amazing the amount of steel and concrete we have in place. Each and every piece of work is in some way tested or recorded to assure that this is the best bridge ever.”

As citizens await the completion of the overpass, GDOT advises motorists to be aware of the ongoing construction and to use an alternate route until the overpass is complete. Furthermore, semi-trucks are advised to avoid Hill Avenue entirely because of its tight turns. Large trucks have difficulties maneuvering and are forced to drive on the curb, which damages the curbs and storm-water drains.

If at all possible, walkers and bicyclists are advised to avoid Hill Avenue until the overpass is completed.