Whitehall Hill Reduction Improvements Project

By Esther Shim

A hazardous and hilly road is about to be reconstructed for the sake of the Athens, Ga., community.

The S. Milledge Avenue at Whitehall Road intersection is dangerous for commuters due to hilly conditions that prevent proper sight of other drivers around curves, according to the Transportation and Public Works committee.

The Mayor and Commission approved the award for the Whitehall Road and S. Milledge Avenue intersection reconstruction and hill reduction project proposal at the regular meeting on March 3, 2015.

The Whitehall Hill Reduction Improvements Project was approved as a subproject of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) 2011 Program’s Road and Bridge Improvements and Replacement Program (Project #26), according to the project history. The project idea began in November 2010 to create safer driving paths for the community.

The S. Milledge Avenue at Whitehall Road intersection is a well-traveled and traffic heavy road. The Transportation and Public Works committee’s mission is to repair the vertical curve on Whitehall Road and improve vehicle sight distance to prevent dangerous driving. In addition to reducing the hill on the curve, the committee also plans to construct a roundabout at the intersection for efficient commuting and better traffic flow, according to the project package.

These improvements will be beneficial to college students as well as other community members who travel to Athens for work. The Mayor and Commission approved the Preliminary Construction Plan for the project on April 2, 2014, and the project was advertised for construction on December 18, 2014, according to the package.

The bid opening was scheduled for for January 22, 2015, with several companies such as Structural Resources, Inc., Pittman Construction Co., and E.R. Snell Contractor Inc., placing the lowest bids. At the Agenda Setting Meeting on February 17, 2015, committee members recommended that the Mayor and Commission award a contract of $561,700.95 for the Whitehall Road Hill Reduction Project to E.R. Snell Contractor, Inc.

The contract was the most cost efficient of the competing contractors, and the committee asked that the contract and award  be approved at the March 3rd Mayor and Commission Regular Meeting.

One concern of the construction project was that the roads would have to be closed during renovations. This would cause a couple of months of detouring through Watkinsville and Oconee County.

The construction project will begin in April 2015 and the expected completion date is by September 2015, according to the Athens-Banner Herald. Around this time, there is an expected increase in traffic with a number of detour signs placed in the general vicinity of construction.

Traffic is expected to start as early as May, while schools are in session, in preparation of construction, according to the Athens-Banner Herald. The intersection of S. Milledge Avenue at Whitehall Road is expected to be closed until late July.

Athen’s citizens can expect additional improvements such as bicycle lanes, wider roads, and a sidewalk as well, according to the project package.

For further information as well as snapshots of the intersection improvement project concepts, take a look at the following sites: