The City of Minden line crew has begun the process of preparing parts of Homer Road for the "Widening US 79 to Five Lanes" project.
The project is an effort to lower the number of accidents at intersections along Homer Road from MBL Drive to Morris Drive, according to Ron Watts, Department of Transportation and Development area engineer.
"DOTD maintains a list of accidents on all state routes," Watts said. "Along this section of roadway the accident rate is considered too high, especially at intersections."
A dedicated center turn lane is intended to reduce the accident rate.
"The city has already started relocating light poles to make room for the five-lane roadway and will relocate some of the underground utilities outward to the highway right-of-way, depending on whether the existing utilities conflict with construction," he said.
Safety concerns were the key to approval of what will possibly be an expensive project, according to Watts.
"It is kind of costly – I mean there is no right-of-way being purchased but a lot of widening for such a short distance – it's a pretty expensive project but it will be funded through safety funding," he said.
The tentative letting date for the project, which is funded through the Highway Safety Improvement Program, is set for March 28, 2012.
On the west side, the project will begin to widen to a five-lane new roadway beginning about 400 feet west of MBL Drive.
On the east side, the project ties evenly with the concrete pavement at Morris Drive.
Technically, Hwy. 79 is a north-to-south highway; however, the portion that runs through Minden is mostly east to west.
Once the project is finished, there will be two lanes traveling east and two traveling west, all 11 feet wide, and one center turn lane that will be 12 feet wide.
"The new roadway will be asphaltic concrete, hot mix/blacktop and bordered by new concrete curb-and-gutter," Watts said.
"Intersecting streets and driveways will be re-constructed to the DOTD right way, which is a necessity in order to get a good tie-in between new roadway, streets and driveways. The inlet catch basins and underground storm drain along the project will be re-built," he said.