Panola Road gets $7 million for widening project

— Ellenwood residents may see some traffic relief on Panola Road in two years, but they will first have to suffer construction headaches.

Clayton County is preparing to launch a project to widen Panola Road from two lanes to four lanes. County transportation Director Jeff Metarko explained the project — which is expected to be completed in 2015 — is needed to relieve congestion along the roadway.

The roadway to be widened stretches from the point where Forest Parkway becomes Panola Road to the Henry County line.

“It’s fairly packed in the morning times,” Metarko said. “There are lines of cars that can’t get out of the subdivisions. This will add more capacity to the road and add sidewalks along the road on both sides for pedestrians.”

The Clayton County Board of Commissioners set aside $7.05 million in tax funds this week to establish a budget and expense account for the construction project. County finance Director Angela Jackson told commissioners the money was coming from the 2004 SPLOST account.

Construction is expected to begin within “the next month or two” after the county signs contracts with Lilburn-based CMES Inc. to proceed with the work, Metarko said.

The commission approved the hiring of CMES Inc. during its Feb. 19 meeting.