VALDOSTA — After months without work being done on the Lowndes County stretch of Interstate 75, Douglas Asphalt returned crews to the freeway Tuesday to finish the last portion of necessary construction.

Though Douglas Asphalt recently discontinued working on the unfinished Lowndes County portion of I-75, the company began a new six mile stretch in Turner County. Sen. Tim Golden, D-Valdosta, sent a copy of an Aug. 3 Valdosta Daily Times article regarding the extensive delays in completion of the project along with a letter requesting DOT’s response to Harold Linnenkohl, GDOT commissioner.

The letter stated, “As you can imagine, this stalemate in completion of this project is a thorn in the side of many citizens of Lowndes County as well as being a safety hazard and a problem for tourists traveling through this area. For many people this is the entry point for Georgia. Is this the image of our great state we want to show people?”

Two days after the letter was sent, Craig Solomon, GDOT public information officer, stated that work trucks were being gathered on the interstate through the weekend as the company prepared to complete the widening project from exit 18 to the Cook County line. Solomon was unsure what prompted the return of the crews, but believes the reason may be that “they (Douglas Asphalt Company) just decided it was time to get out there and finish the job.”

Lowndes County Manager Joe Pritchard expected an update on the project Wednesday, but was not contacted by any representative from the GDOT office.

Construction began on the $74.9 million widening project in 2002 and was expected to be completed in September 2004. Initial delays were necessary due to weather and holiday concerns, and a necessary revision of original construction plans caused even further delays.

According to Solomon, discussions are continuing between Douglas Asphalt and the GDOT regarding fees for not meeting the original completion deadline. Fines to contractors working over the completion date can reach $2,100 per day. If the GDOT does not agree to any extensions for Douglas Asphalt without penalty, the company can face more than $1.4 million in penalties.

Representatives from Douglas Asphalt failed to return numerous phone calls for comment.



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