Smooth sailing for commuters who travel Ga. Highway 138
GDOT officials say most of work is done

CONYERS - Commuters who travel Ga. Highway 138 on a regular basis can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Congestion due to the road improvement project at Ga. 138 and Interstate 20 caused drivers considerable frustration, but according to Georgia Department of Transportation officials, those days are gone.

"The brunt of the work is now finished," said Mark McKinnon, media relations manager for the GDOT. "The work left to be done is not major construction and any disruption should be minimal."

McKinnon said all that remains to complete the widening project is engineers will check the shoulder grades and review the road striping to make certain all lanes are properly marked and make corrections if necessary.

"Over the next few weeks, we will also be looking at the timing of the traffic signals and tweaking those signals to get them synchronized to help move traffic more efficiently," he said.

McKinnon said all of the work on the project should be completed within the next three to four weeks.

"We know this has been disruptive, but the final results should be a significant improvement," he said.

The GDOT has been working on widening the busy traffic corridor for more than two years. The improvements included widening Ga. 138, realigning the intersections at Main Street, Old Covington Highway and American Legion Road.

The years-long project has not been without headaches. Drivers had to navigate narrowed and shifting lanes and endure increased congestion along what is arguably one of the most heavily traveled commercial corridors in the county. In December, while work crews were paving near the intersections of Dogwood Drive, Ga. 138 and I-20, traffic was often jammed along Ga. 138 and Salem Road. Throughout one day, traffic was backed up as much as three miles along the state highway.

In November 2006, GDOT offered Sonic Drive-In, which operates at the corner of Old Covington Highway and Ga. 138, a $1 million settlement in a civil suit. The restaurant sued the Department of Transportation claiming it had lost revenue due to the construction project and the rerouting of roadways, which made it difficult for customers to enter and exit the restaurant.

When GDOT completes the Ga. 138 widening, work will begin on reconnecting Old Covington Highway with Green Street, under Ga. 138 and behind The Home Depot, which will provide another access point to the busy Dogwood Drive retail site.

Ric Latarski can be reached at ric.latarski@rockdalecitizen.com.