Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Project Has St. Marys Businesses Fuming; They Say Lengthy Road-Widening Project Makes Customers Leery of Access to Parking Lots

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Project Has St. Marys Businesses Fuming; They Say Lengthy Road-Widening Project Makes Customers Leery of Access to Parking Lots

Article excerpt

Byline: GORDON JACKSON

ST. MARYS -- Toni Walker has seen a steady decrease in business the past four years because of a road-widening project on Georgia 40 in St. Marys that seems like it will never end.

Walker, owner of Playtime Pools, says the barrels that line the highway in front of her business create an obstacle course that makes it difficult for customers to safely pull into her parking lot.

Delivery trucks have an even more difficult time, Walker said, often having to drive a quarter mile or more to find a place to turn around to safely make a right turn into her parking lot.

"We've seen at least a 50 percent drop-off in business since the beginning [of construction]," Walker said. "We're tired of it. We don't know what we're going to do."

The most baffling part, Walker said, is she hasn't seen a construction crew working on the highway since the Georgia Department of Transportation announced the completion of the $11.7 million widening project in October.

"The only thing we've seen them do is move the barrels," she said. "We have people call all the time asking if there are workers out there."

The good news is DOT officials say relief is near for those affected by the construction zone the past four years. Work is scheduled to begin in early fall on the uncompleted stretch of highway just east of St. Marys Road and the work should be completed by the end of the year, said Brad Saxon, district construction engineer for DOT.

The widening project, which was scheduled for completion in June 2003, is unfinished for a half-mile stretch of the highway because of some renovations to railroad tracks crossing the highway, he said.

The tracks have to be raised to road level and new crossing guards and lights have to be installed. Once that work is done, construction crews will complete a few hundred feet of curb and add a raised median near the tracks. …

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