Dean Forest, I-16 Diverging Diamond Interchange Project still needs funding, but is on track

Dean Forest, I-16 Diverging Diamond Interchange Project still needs funding, but is on track
Updated: Aug. 3, 2018 at 4:05 PM EDT
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CHATHAM CO., GA (WTOC) - Chatham County commissioners have approved a project agreement and are moving forward with the Georgia Department of Transportation on the Dean Forest Diverging Diamond Interchange at I-16.

The agreement approved today is between the County and GDOT to make sure the County gets reimbursed for money they've already invested in the project design.

"There are many pots of money that come along that we use to build and design projects," said Chatham County engineer, Leon Davenport. "This is a federal allotment of money, and so, in order for us to get our money back, we had to enter into this agreement with the department."

"All in favor of the motion, indicate by voting 'yes', opposed 'no'. The action calendar is approved," Chatham County Commission Chairman Al Scott announced at Friday's meeting. The project agreement was a part of the action calendar.

This agreement ensures the county will get hundreds of thousands back for the work they're doing.

The cost of the project has gone up since last summer, from $19 to $25 million.

"The Dean Forest Project doesn't have funding at this time. The 16 widening project, is $260 million of department spending, and that's put a little bit of stress on the department's funds. This is not a project that's critical to the 16 project. It is beneficial, but it's not critical," Davenport said.

It will help with the growing numbers of vehicles using that stretch of road at Dean Forest and I-16. According to GDOT, traffic will about double along the two routes by 2042. With the port expansion project, a good number of those vehicles will be big trucks.

"As we all know, in our community, truck turns are happening in every interchange that we have, so anything we can do to help to make those easier for the drivers, it helps with our flow, obviously," Davenport said.

According to a detailed project schedule given to commissioners on Friday, the final plans for the interchange project should be submitted by January of next year.

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