Businesses brace for weekend GA 21 shutdown

(Source: WTOC)
(Source: WTOC)

PORT WENTWORTH, GA (WTOC) - The Georgia Department of Transportation has just unveiled what's called a diverging diamond interchange at Highway 21 and I-95 in Port Wentworth.

The entire interchange will be shut down to most traffic if the weather holds beginning Friday night.  It won't last long but business owners around the intersection said the impact on their employees has already started.

The diverging diamond interchange or DDI will significantly improve safety and traffic flow at this notoriously busy intersection, that for months, has forced nearby businesses and their employees, to adapt.

The owner of the Savannah Inn the long waits in traffic have cost her employees, and revenue, since this time last year.

"A lot of workers, they don't like to stay here because there's too much traffic," said Bhavna Patel, of the Savannah Inn.

For the latest, and perhaps most disruptive step in the DDI configuration, State Route 21 will be closed to thru-traffic under the I-95 bridge beginning this Friday night until Sunday night.

"Yeah, if that highway's shut down, we really...that's most of our business, is people from that highway," said Phoebe Gonzalez, with the Waffle House in Port Wentworth.

Gonzalez said the loss of customers is particularly rough on their servers who depend on the tips, especially close to the holiday's. But she also acknowledged how bad traffic has been, and is hoping the project delivers as promised.

"Hopefully it picks back up after all this. Less traffic, more people stop by. More people want to come this way," said Gonzalez.

A representative with GDOT told WTOC this diverging diamond interchange is also being considered for the I-16 widening project, at the intersection of Dean Forest and I-16.

Transportation officials will meet Thursday to discuss this weekend's project, and any potential weather impacts.

Copyright 2016 WTOC. All rights reserved.