According to City Engineer Tommy Sanders, the project could take up to a year to complete, with the changes occurring in phases.
"The project basically consists of adding curbing gutter to that longitudinal piping and a raised median," Sanders said. "So, there will be median openings where you can turn left -- that's the safety component of it on the section that's basically undeveloped now."
The median will serve to help direct the traffic congestion in the area and could reduce accidents.
"We will control the turning movements, unlike the existing portion where you've got cars just turning everywhere," Sanders said. "It's a lot safer if you can control where cars turn. ... We won't have cars just going all over the roadway and trying to cross five lanes. When you control the turning movements, you eliminate potential impact points and potential places where you can have accidents.
"If you try to leave Target and turn left to get back on I-75, sometimes it's impossible. That lends itself to people taking unnecessary chances a lot of times. So, hopefully, this project will help eliminate some of that."
The median will begin at Honda Carland North, where the project begins, and extend toward the interstate with openings along the stretch. Other changes include moving utilities along the area underground and a beautification aspect that will enhance the lighting and landscaping along the route.
"What the contractor will do is he'll go in there and remove the existing paved shoulder," Sanders said. "He'll install curbing gutter and all the storm drains necessary to catch the water and they'll also put in the median and do some grading. Then they'll pull off the project and turn it over to utilities and the utility companies -- Cartersville Electric, AT&T, Comcast and Cartersville Fibercom -- and they'll be going underground. Also, there's going to be a new gas line laid that will be underground. When that's done, C.W. Matthews will come back in and put in the sidewalk and Cartersville Electric is also going to be doing some revisions to the lighting. The last thing they'll do is the landscaping."
Total, Sanders said the contract is set at $2.2 million. Of that, the city has received two grants from the state, one for $500,000 for the construction and the other for $400,000 to assist with landscaping. The remainder of the cost is to be paid from the 2003 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
"Almost half of the money for the project is being paid for by the state," Sanders said. "It's really a win for the community because we're getting something that's going to be really nice for, basically, half price."
The construction is expected to be complete by January 2013, with the tentative schedule for contractors to focus on the curbing gutter and drainage for four months and turning the area over to utility re-routing, landscaping and sidewalk installation.
"My personal hope is people will like it so much that maybe one day they'll want us to do [the same thing] from the Honda starting point back toward [U.S. Highway] 41," Sanders said. "It would be nice for that whole corridor to look the same and operate the same."