The Georgia Department of Transportation has commenced work on widening State Route 119, also called Airport Road, in Hinesville and Walthourville.
According to a news release from GDOT, the stretch of Airport Road from E.G. Miles Parkway to West Oglethorpe Highway is 3.3 miles long. The project, which will widen the road from a “two-lane route to four-lane divided highway with sidewalk and multi-purpose path,” will take approximately three years to complete at a cost of $17.7 million.
Though the bulk of that cost relates to construction and is being funded by GDOT, Liberty County Administrator Joey Brown said that the county was required to match a certain portion of engineering and utility-relocation costs.
Brown said the county paid $260,000 in engineering costs and $900,000 toward utility relocation, all of which was drawn from Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax revenue.
According to Brown, the widening project has been in the works for a number of years. He said that the project originally appeared on a countywide project list for SPLOST IV, but had to wait its turn for federal and state funds to become available and for engineering to be completed.
GDOT District Communication Officer Jill Nagel said that the project’s projected completion date of 2017 largely is due to the utility relocation that must take place before actual construction can begin.
“There’s a tremendous amount of utilities on 119, and we’re actually dealing with two municipalities,” Nagel said. “We’re anticipating 12 to 18 months just to get all the utilities relocated.”
Although the widening will be of ultimate benefit to the county, the long construction time could present difficulties for the various businesses and entities that line Airport Road. However, the Hinesville Fire Department is confident that their services will not be hindered by the project.
“It’s really not going to have an affect on us,” said Kris Johanson, Hinesville Fire Department’s public-information officer.
“I think it’s going to benefit everybody a lot, because traffic’s starting to pick up out on Airport Road, especially around the school in the mornings and the afternoons,” Johanson continued.
Brown said that West 15th Street also is slated for widening, although funds for construction are not yet available. Some preliminary engineering has been funded by the county through SPLOST, he said.