PORT WENTWORTH, Ga (WSAV) – It has been in planning for nearly nine years and will affect the commutes of thousands in Chatham and Effingham county. Georgia DOT has opened the diverging diamond interchange at highway 21 and interstate 95.
The interchange is the first outside of metro Atlanta as well as one of the first built as an underpass; DDI’s at Ashford-Dunwoody Road, Jimmy Carter Boulevard, as well as Pleasant Hill Road all sit over interstates 85 and 285.
“So now ht we are just really excited to get through this process,” says Port Wentworth business chamber president and CEO Trisha Growe.
The $6 million project has taken just under two years to build, nearly nine to plan and will address the traffic flow of thousands of commuters from Effingham, Chatham, as well as other neighboring counties like the ones in South Carolina that commuters come in from.
“Definitely needed, the traffic a lot of times would back up especially during rush hour coming home it would be really bad,” says Port Wentworth councilman Thomas Barbee.
In 2015, GDOT recorded two days in a row of car numbers coming from northbound 95 to highway 21. They did a total of three days measuring these numbers, but for two days in a row, when they tallied the cars during rush hour, from 3:00 to 6:00 in the afternoon, they totaled almost six thousand cars each day, during that period of time.
“This is something that you know has been a growing pain and this process of getting through it but now that we are almost to then end of it we are really excited to see the changes it brings to everyone’s commute,” says Growe who also heads the visitor center.
What the DDI essentially does is a lane shift in the interchange making so northbound 95 motorists can easily yield or turn northbound to highway 21 without crossing over southbound traffic lanes. That is vice versa for southbound drivers.
“I know really everyone complains about how long it takes to get into Savannah in the morning and basically back home at night and we’re really hoping to see a vast improvement on the total commute time,” Growe adds.