Lengthy road closure caused by collapsed, antiquated sewer line

A road detour causing headaches for motorists traveling near Augusta’s medical district is entering its third month, but a city official says the end of construction could be near.

On the 1500 block of Wrightsboro Road, a collapsed sewer line near the Dart Container facility prompted the city’s engineering department to close the road in May. The detour has left drivers without an easy way to get around the Georgia Regents University medical campus.

Engineering Director Abie Ladson said a collapsed, 42-inch brick sewer line caused Wrightsboro Road to start sinking, and the problem only got worse as crews tried to correct the problem. The road closure – which Ladson called an “emergency” – has cost $800,000 in redirected funds from special purpose local option sales tax coffers.

“It started as a sink hole near the road. As a temporary fix, we filled it in. Less than a day later, the hole got bigger,” Ladson said. “As soon as we repaired a portion of it, another portion failed.”

Construction to replace 1,000 feet of sewer line with reinforced concrete pipe should be finished in three to four weeks, Ladson said. But, the city will likely face similar issues elsewhere as the aging infrastructure continues to fail, he said.

“If we had a storm water fee, we could pay for these things. We’re probably going to have more of these,” he said.

The brick sewer line was 70 to 80 years old, Ladson said.

Connie Morris, a dental assistant at the College of Dental Medicine at Georgia Regents University, avoids the road block during her lunch break. Traffic on the detour route – which forces drivers to take a right-hand turn on Emmett Street and a left on Central Avenue – backs up, making it impossible for Morris to get to restaurants on Walton Way and back to work in an hour.

“It makes it hard for us. We could go a whole other route, but it’s just closer to go that way to Walton Way,” she said.

Morris said some patients have been late for dental appointments because they were not expecting the detour.

The construction work couldn’t be finished any quicker, Ladson said. The engineering department looked at replacing a smaller amount of sewer line but the problem couldn’t be corrected.

“It’s what we’re dealing with. It’s unfortunate,” he said.

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