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First leg of new Memorial Drive opens
road closed sign 2
The closed area of the old Washington Avenue shifted from Bradwell Street to Highway 84 to Bradwell to Main Street Friday. Both construction areas have terminated in front of Hinesville First Baptist Church. - photo by Photo by Alena Parker.
The first part of the Memorial Drive realignment project reopened to local traffic on half of East Washington Street, from Highway 84 to Bradwell Street, Friday afternoon.
The project to create a new, direct route between 84 and Fort Stewart, is still in its first phase. Project manager Matthew Barrow, with P.C. Simonton and Associates, gave the go-ahead to open the road up to traffic.
And Vicki Davis, director of the Hinesville Downtown Development Authority, was pleased to walk the sidewalk a couple hours after the opening and see the project’s progress since the April groundbreaking.
“Basically, the opening right now is because the roadway is complete and it’s opening to facilitate traffic needs in that area,” Davis said. “The most important work is done and there’s no reason to continue to block traffic at this point.”
Barrow said the groundwork is complete and the opened road needs only another coat of asphalt, signs and lights. After a year, they hope to be able to spruce up the landscape in the road’s median.
Now construction will focus on the other half of Washington, a traffic circle on Main Street and new road from the circle to Memorial Drive.
“I’m hoping in the next year to be 100 percent,” Barrow said. “At this point, we’re about at 50 percent, if not more.”
Davis sees the corridor as a welcome addition to Hinesville and the downtown area.
“Of course, we have quite a ways to go, but this gives a vision of what the end product is going to look like,” Davis said.
The newly created road will angle into the existing Memorial Drive at Rebecca and Welborn streets.
Hinesville City Council has agreed to call the whole corridor Memorial Drive when construction is complete.
Barrow thinks the absence of power lines was one of the most noticeable changes, allowing people to see more of the natural landscape.
According to Barrow, the sidewalk from Highway 84 to Fort Stewart will measure roughly a mile and Davis hopes it will make an ideal, downtown walking trail.
Considering the daily business that goes on, Davis said First Presbyterian Church Academy, First Baptist Church and the Board of Education have been directly affected by the construction and road closures, but the groups have been flexible.
“There are always inconveniences that come up and they’ve been very understanding through the process,” Davis said.
Barrow said residents have been particularly cooperative.
“But they understand when we get through, we’re going to have a real nice front yard,” Barrow said.
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