VALDOSTA -- Construction will begin soon to improve the intersection of Jerry Jones Drive and Alden Avenue.

According to Von Shipman, Valdosta city engineer, this is a project that has been in the works for a year. The Valdosta City Council approved the plans and the bids to work on the intersection March 11.

Because of the amount of traffic backing up to Park Avenue on southbound Jerry Jones and backing up northbound to Baytree Road during peak travel periods, Shipman said construction was important.

"We've been seeing the growing traffic on Jerry Jones, and this construction will allow us to diffuse the traffic and make the traffic flow through Jerry Jones easier," Shipman said.

Construction includes two left turn lanes on either side of Alden Avenue and adding a second southbound lane on Jerry Jones Drive from McRee Street to Alden Avenue. Left turn lanes will be added to Jerry Jones Drive to enter the side streets of Cranford Drive and McRee Street to prevent single cars from blocking traffic.

According to Shipman, the engineering department hosted a public comment meeting for residents on the affected streets to express their concerns.

"We got a good response to the hearing," Shipman said. "Most (residents) said they were pleased to know that something was going to be done. Some residents even called the engineering department and said they were supportive of the construction."

Shipman also said stakes have been placed in yards in preparation for the construction, and no complaints have been made to the engineering department. The engineering department had rights-of-way and was allowed to begin construction, but wanted residents to sign an easement to be able to push back dirt into yards for the construction if necessary.

Shipman also said parts of the affected roads may be closed and traffic rerouted.

"We'll need to close roads, especially Jerry Jones when we begin the piping and doing the curbs and gutters as well as the southbound lane," Shipman said. "The public will be notified as those closures come up."

The project will cost $177,600 and will be paid for by designated Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 5 money.

Shipman said construction should end by the end of July.

To contact reporter Michelle Taylor, please call 229-244-3400, ext. 245.

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