GA. Highway 138 to be widened this summer

By Justin Boron

A long planned road widening for the Henry and Clayton County strip of Ga. Highway 138 has finally made its way to the construction phase after being sidelined in the early 1990s.

The 4.27 mile strip of road between Walt Stephens Road and the Henry County line was originally planned in 1989. But because metro Atlanta failed to meet air quality requirements, the $16 million project was postponed, said Bert Brantley, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

The widening is one of the hundreds of roadway construction projects that transportation officials say will make for the busiest year ever. Combined with the road work started earlier in the year, Georgia DOT will likely spend more than $1 billion on projects, said Vicki Gavalas, the department's director of communications.

With Henry County's rampant suburban growth in the 1990s and the average traffic count at 17,000 cars per day, the improvement is badly needed, Brantley said.

The construction comes after the state purchased $15 million worth of right of way parcels along the road, he said.

State transportation officials say they are working to avoid a summer of long, hot traffic jams.

But there are bound to be a few, Gavalas said.

"That much work is going to result in some inconvenience," she said. "But we have an excellent information network available to help motorists find out about construction-related lane closures, traffic incidents, alternate routes or added trip times."

The transportation department is urging drivers to access the Web site www.georgia-navigator.com for information about lane closures and traffic information.