Midlothian Turnpike construction ahead of schedule, over budget

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - The sea of orange and white barrels on Midlothian Turnpike may be going away earlier than planned.

Crews working on the multi-million dollar project are ahead of schedule, says VDOT Construction Engineer Ray Johnston. However, he also says VDOT is nearly $3 million over budget on the massive renovation.

"On a job in an urban setting, the utilities are always a surprise," said Johnston. "Once you dig into a ground that's been here a long time, so we have found a lot of old utilities and those types of things."

Johnston says they ran into several road blocks along the way, including asbestos pipes and contaminated soil. With the help of mostly federal funds, he says the project will go on. Tuesday, crews smoothed out the lip on the pavement where they switched the traffic pattern near Erich road. Next, crews will move traffic from the east bound side over to the west bound lanes while they lay concrete and install drainage pipes. Depending on the project, drivers should expect lane closures during the evenings, and occasionally during the daytime.

"It's a tricky ballet as far as the traffic and getting work done at the same time," Johnston added.

In doing that, Johnston predicts the project on Midlothian Turnpike and German School Road should  be complete this fall. There's a $1 million incentive if the contractor finishes by July 31, 2012 and a $600,000 incentive to finish by December 14, 2012.

"We hope the contractor can meet those incentives to put people on the road earlier," Johnston noted.

In the meantime, road construction crews finished installing drainage pipes and paving on German School road south of Midlothian. They'll also put up new lights and posts at each intersection in hopes of beating the August 2013 deadline.

Even if crews finish the roads early, they may still be working on the new street lights and sidewalks that will run along the two mile stretch of Midlothian.  VDOT also urges drivers to be careful when driving through the construction zone where men are working.

Copyright 2012 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.