The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has announced a new section of Highway 441, near the I-20 intersection and Farmview Market, will undergo widening work beginning on Wednesday, Aug. 3. GDOT is funding the price tag — a whopping $39.2 million — to widen the 8-mile stretch of Highway 441 from the Morgan-Putnam county line up to the I-20 interchange.
Local motorists utilizing the route should prepare for traffic and delays as well as being redirected to make-shift lanes during the construction process, contracted to E.R. Snell.
“The shift will move traffic to the right side of the project beginning at Maddox Road up to Farmview Market, just south of where 441 meets Interstate 20. Eleven-foot travel lanes will be maintained throughout the length of the shift. Motorists are encouraged to follow the signage and drive cautiously through the work zone,” said the GDOT announcement.
According to GDOT, the pricey project to widen a section of Highway 441 to four lanes is on track for completion by Spring of next year.
“The ongoing project to widen eight miles of 441 from two to four lanes from the Morgan-Putnam county line to I-20 is currently about 43 percent complete, and is on schedule to be finished by the March 2024 full completion date,” said the GDOT announcement.
The 8-mile project is just one-piece of a $100 million-plus long-term plan to transform Highway 441 from a two-lane highway to a four-lane highway, better connecting rural areas in Morgan, Putnam and Oconee counties. The hefty investment of $39.2 million for the first phase of widening is more than half of all funds awarded in December 2021 toward roadway projects throughout the entire state.
“The largest single investment, worth approximately $39.2 million, was awarded to E.R. Snell Contractor, Inc to widen and reconstruct 8.07 miles of roadway on US 129/441/State Route 24 from Putnam County line to north of Pierce Dairy Road in Morgan County,” said a GDOT press release in 2021. “GDOT awarded 17 construction contracts for statewide transportation projects totaling $75,960,935. In addition, $1.5 million was awarded in a design-build project.”
GDOT is estimating future widening projects of 441, which will start in Morgan County and move along north to Oconee County, will kick off in the Spring of 2023.
According to plans unveiled by GDOT in 2019, there will be at least three more widening projects on 441 across three counties.
The first will begin at the Madison Bypass and end north of Apalachee River in Oconee County. The next will begin north of Apalachee River to just south of Bishop and continue north of High Shoals Road to connect with the Watkinsville Bypass. The third phase will be a new connecting bypass east of the Town of Bishop’s downtown area (and its existing 441 highway) and begin at Astondale Road until reaching High Shoals Road.
For Morgan County’s 8.46-mile project, widening will begin at the intersection of SR 24/US 441/US 129 and SR 12/US 441 BUS/US 278 going north, approaching the bridge, with a five-lane highway that will then transition to a four-lane typical highway where it will continue until reaching the project for Oconee County. The estimated cost for the reconstruction in Morgan County, including preliminary engineering, right of way, utilities and etc., is $51.5 million, and is the most expensive of the three projects.
According to Kyle Collins, a public relations representative for GDOT, the 441 widening projects has been 20 years in the making.
“It comes down to the Governor’s Road Improvement Program…it’s a commitment to connect rural areas that have a lot of two-lane highways for better safety, traffic operations, economic developments, and to help trucks freight about,” Collins explained in 2021. “Majority of that corridor is on 441. There are a lot of roads… that are all a part of construction. There’s something going on in Oconee, Morgan, Putnam, on the south side towards Dublin that are really the last pieces to widen 441 from North to South from two lanes to four lanes. So, it’s just an ongoing commitment that needs to be delivered.”
According to GDOT, with over 20 percent of traffic in Morgan County being trucks and the rise of economic development in Madison and surrounding cities, traffic congestion will inevitably increase. The widening of US 441 can increase safety for vehicles and decrease traffic interruptions.