FLORENCE — The roundabout project that started in September finally is taking on the look of a finished project, and a portion of it could open within two weeks.
"We're getting closer," City Engineer Bill Batson said Monday. "We're shooting for opening partially to traffic in a couple of weeks.
"That will mean traffic coming south on Royal Avenue can go around on the roundabout and head east on Huntsville Road. Traffic heading west on Huntsville Road can enter the roundabout and head north on Royal Avenue."
Batson said the section of Royal Avenue south of the roundabout will be closed for some utility work that contractors estimate will take an additional two to three weeks.
Afterward, striping and other surface work must be completed, including adding sidewalks as part of the overall project that should benefit the Sweetwater business district.
"That's why we are saying Sept. 12 as the final completion date," Batson said. "We think it's a safe date. We think we can beat it, but the engineers are saying Sept. 12."
Mayor Steve Holt said the City Council approved extending the sidewalk project to add to the streetscaping in the area.
"That's going to mean five more of the lampposts, but we can do those with the roundabout open," Holt said. "The paving looks very good and I know the owners are glad to see it."
The project, which was expected to last 80 working days, has been snake bitten along the way.
Officials say rainfall has caused many delays to the project, including record amounts of rain in February.
On top of that, when workers reached two old underground lines, they realized the work could not be done without replacing those lines.
All the while, vehicle access to restaurants and other businesses has been interrupted.
Rob Tyree, of Ranger Batteries Company, has had a perfect view of the construction work throughout the months from his business at 1420 Huntsville Road.
"It's much better to finally see it take shape, rather than be a bunch of dirt and gravel," Tyree said. "It's hurt us tremendously. It's been a long 10 months. We are very happy that this has taken form and is almost done. It's been difficult for everyone."