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Beltline widening on schedule

By Evan Belanger 340-2442

Work on one of Decatur's busiest thoroughfares looks to finish on time, as long as the weather remains fair.

While contractors working on widening Beltline Road Southwest appeared to have halted their efforts this month, everything is going as planned, said Marvin Pendergrass, a spokesman for APAC South East.

Birmingham-based APAC won a $6.1 million contract earlier this year to widen a portion of the Beltline from four to six lanes. The project extends from Danville Road to Gordon Terry Parkway.

Workers spent more than four months digging out the medians to make room for the extra lanes, but this month work appeared to have stopped.

Pendergrass said few workers are on the site this month because they are applying a primer base for the road's foundation and asphalt surface. The job takes fewer people, and the base takes a few days to cure enough for further roadwork, he said.

"Overall, the job is going really well, so we should be finished on time as long as the weather is good," Pendergrass said.

The project is scheduled for completion late in the spring of 2008, said Johnny Harris, division engineer for the Alabama Department of Transportation, which contracted the work.

He said the contractor will eventually have to stop work on the project for the winter, when temperatures become too cold to lay asphalt, but work will resume in the spring.

"I haven't received any information that would indicate to me they won't be done on time," Harris said.

The current job is Phase 1 of a three-phase project. Phase 2 will widen the road from Danville Road to U.S. 31. Phase 3 will widen it from Gordon Terry Parkway to Alabama 20.

Beltline Road, which serves many of the city's largest retail destinations, is one of Decatur's busiest streets. More than 31,000 vehicles traverse it daily, according to DOT.

Harris said he hopes the road will provide better traffic flow and speedier transit once the project is finished.

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