Crews broke ground on the four-lane, $51 million road in October 2008, and it was originally slated to be completed this month, though that was delayed by weather.
The roadway extends Windy Hill Road by two miles, from where it now dead-ends at Austell Road, over to Macland Road. The speed limit will be 45 miles per hour, except in the vicinity of Milford Elementary during the hours before and after school. The school-zone speed will be 25 mph.
The project is mostly financed by the 2005 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), and the $51 million budget includes engineering, construction, utilities and right-of-way acquisition.
With a few parcels of land left to acquire and construction almost wrapped up, the connector is projected to be completed on or near budget, said Mike Wright, district 1 engineer for the county’s transportation department.
“We had some delays due to weather,” said Wright, noting the September 2009 floods and other events. “Since we started, we’ve had some serious rain in that time period. So we did get slowed down by that and bad soils.”
Wright pointed out that not only are crews unable to work during heavy rains, but they must wait for the ground is dry out before it can be paved.
The connector has few intersections and was specifically designed to avoid stop-and-go traffic. Callaway Road, which runs alongside Jim R. Miller Park, was rebuilt on a bridge to avoid an intersection with the connector.
“There were a lot of challenges, but they weren’t unexpected,” Wright said. “We didn’t have any design surprises. Everything is working out very well.”
To acquire part of the right-of-way to build the new connector, the county struck a deal with the Cobb County School District in September 2009, agreeing to make $1.2 million in improvements to the campus of Milford Elementary School, which lies about 100 yards from the connector on Austell Road.
The county completed those school improvements last summer, which included a new driveway that will connect to the new road.
The school will keep one of its entrances open on Austell Road.
Christine Able, executive director of the Osborne Community Coalition, said she thought the school improvements are just a Band-Aid.
“The learning environment has been destroyed,” she said. “The community felt if they were going to invest dollars in improvements they should’ve invested in a [pedestrian] bridge so students could cross the road.”
Able said parents and community leaders are still pushing for Cobb County schools to close the school and will bring up the issue at the district’s May 17 meeting on school redistricting in south Cobb. That meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the theater at Campbell High School, 5265 Ward St., Smyrna.