The road is a major artery for those traveling to and from downtown Rome, and the improvements are expected to make it safer getting in and out of both Floyd Medical Center and Heritage Park.
The plan includes widening Second Avenue from the Oostanaula River north to Turner McCall Boulevard, with left turn lanes at key intersections including West Fifth Street.
Rome Public Services Director Kirk Milam said once the project is complete, the city and Floyd Medical Center hope to get a traffic signal installed at West Fifth Street, which has essentially become the main entrance to the hospital.
“That is something we have been anxious to have happen,” Milam said. “It is a condition of the DOT that there are turn lanes there before we can have a signal. That will help with traffic to the hospital, Heritage Park and the ball fields behind the levee.”
The plan will also see the reconstruction of the intersection of Second Avenue, Turner McCall and Martha Berry Boulevard.
Motorists that frequently use Second Avenue are familiar with the fork in the road that offers two different outlets to Turner McCall Boulevard less than 400 feet apart.
The project would provide a new arrangement of lanes at the larger of the two intersections, which is positioned at the junction with Martha Berry Boulevard.
With more room for multiple turn lanes due to the widening of Second Avenue, the thought is it will improve traffic and safety.
It would also eliminate the smaller road that runs between the Second Avenue levee and the triangle of land currently home to an AT&T Mobility store and Peoples Financial — removing the need to merge two lanes of traffic.
Construction is currently scheduled to begin in 2017, but right-of-way agreements with both the city of Rome — for property along the Second Avenue levee and adjacent to Barron Stadium — and Floyd Medical Center have already been settled.
“They have made substantial progress with that,” said Milam. “We’ve been told that if we can clear all the other hurdles of regulatory approval that the schedule may be moved up.”
Milam said it’s likely that the biggest hurdle is getting approval of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Part of the planned work would involve removing some dirt from the Second Avenue levee on the southwest side of the road. Milam said Corps approval is required since the feature serves as a flood barrier between the Coosa River and the northern part of downtown.
“They have the authority of reviewing that, and we are working with the Corps even now to satisfy their review needs,” Milam said.
To help with that, the DOT plans to extend a corrugated steel retaining wall north toward Turner McCall Boulevard.
The wall currently exists only on the section of the levee at the intersection of Second Avenue and West Third Street.
Milam said the project would not interfere with the recent work that has been done around the area. This includes the construction of the new Second Avenue levee gate at West Fifth Street and the relocation of water and sewer lines on West Third Street.
“The gate was put up in anticipation of this project and will tie into this,” Milam said. “That doesn’t mean that there’s not a lot of work to be done, but everything recently has been done with this project in mind.”
The exact cost of the entire project is not finalized because it is in the planning stage. The county’s 2013 – 2016 Transportation Improvement Plan lists only $650,000 budgeted for preliminary engineering.