By BRIAN SMITH
While it may seem like it’s been going on forever, work on the expansion of South Main Street continues and is actually in the final stages.
Work to expand from one lane to two the northbound, or east side, of the highway began in January 2012. The project runs from Interstate 20 to just north of College Park Drive.
Work was expected to take about 10 months on each side of the highway, but weather and details such as the number of driveways on the roadway’s east side slowed the project.
Construction on the southbound, or west, side of the highway began just after the first of the year once work on the northbound lanes was complete. With fewer driveways and obstacles than on the other side, work has been progressing faster in the project’s second phase, according to Director of Capital Transportation Projects Terry Hughes.
“We are still looking toward having two lanes open in each direction at about the first or second week in October,” Hughes said. “There will still be some work going on with medians which will require some temporary lane closures.”
Much of the recent work has been focused in the Bethel Road area to ready that road for future expansion. City officials created a turn lane from southbound Main Street onto Bethel last summer, which alleviated some of the backups. Work on the road was expected to take about a week, but contractors suggested doing some of the preliminary Bethel Road work now to avoid problems later.
“Of course as we started the work on Bethel, four days of rain hit us, which delayed us about a week,” Hughes said. “We figured instead of piddling with it and the road work taking two months, just to get it all done and take one month would be better.”