Pavement covers the newly widened section of Whiteland Road, and a concrete median separates the two lanes; but the county is pleading with drivers to stay off the major east-west route for a few more weeks.
Since June, the stretch of road has been closed while workers have been widening lanes, installing storm drains, laying asphalt and building a roundabout as part of the $6 million project. Trucks have been used to barricade the one-mile stretch where work is being done between Morgantown and Saddle Club roads, but some drivers have tried to go through, CrossRoad Engineers representative Brad Stahley said.
Work is expected to be finished by the end of this month, and the road will reopen to traffic. The project, which is being paid for with money from the county’s wheel tax, includes widening Whiteland Road and putting in a roundabout at Morgantown Road so that more drivers will be able to use the road as a new east-west corridor for the county.
When motorists have driven through the construction area, they often try to avoid workers by driving over a median. The vehicles have ground down dirt on the median, and it will now have to be refinished. The damage will not delay construction, which is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 26. The median will be fixed by then, Stahley said.
When someone tries to go through the barricades during the day, workers will stop them and tell them they can’t go through, county highway director Luke Mastin said. Some days multiple drivers have tried to get through the construction, and sheriff’s deputies were called to ticket them, Mastin said.
During work hours, workers have parked construction equipment in lanes to block people from entering and put up signs, but some people ignore them, Stahley said.
But most of the drivers going through the work area do so at night, when construction crews have left for the day.
Going through barricades is dangerous to both construction workers and drivers, who also could damage their vehicles, he said.
Motorists won’t have to wait much longer to use the road. Crews are in the final phases of construction and are finishing a walking path that will extend the length of the project, installing mailboxes for residents and completing landscaping, which includes planting trees, grading soil and seeding, he said.
Starting this week, workers will begin putting down the final layer of asphalt.
The section of road between Morgantown and Saddle Club roads is part of a two-phase project that began last year, when work was done to widen Whiteland Road between State Road 135 and Saddle Club Road.
The first phase of the project, which was finished in December 2012, was left without a final coat of asphalt because construction on the second phase might have damaged it, Stahley said. During the next week, crews will put the final layer on both sections of road. Drivers will be directed around equipment while work is being done outside the current construction area.