The first step of $17 million of improvements to Jones Creek Road is beginning, but it will still be some time before any major work begins.

The project will upgrade the sewer line beneath the road with larger pipe and widen the road to five lanes between Tiger Bend Road and Coursey Boulevard. There will be a continuous middle turn lane and others along the sides for walking and bicycling, said Metro Councilman Buddy Amoroso, who represents the area.

“Jones Creek is going to be wonderful,” he said.

Amoroso held two town hall meetings last week to tell people about the plans, saying “this project has lingered for a long time ... and people are not too aware of what’s going on.”

The idea for the project was conceived in 1998, Amoroso said, but hit some snags along the way. The East Baton Rouge city-parish government rejected all the bids two years ago after the lowest bidder sued, claiming the process had been unfair.

The contract was eventually awarded to JB James Construction in February 2014.

A 120-day set-up period beginning for tasks like ordering materials will begin this Wednesday, Amoroso said. Construction, which will take about two years, will begin after that.

“The first year of the construction project is not going to have that much interference on the road because that’s when they’re putting the sewer pipe in,” Amoroso said.

Unlike some other ongoing road projects in Baton Rouge, the Jones Creek improvements are not part of the city-parish’s Green Light Plan. Rather, 80 percent of the $17 million is from the federal government and 20 percent from the city-parish, Amoroso said.