They’re causing lane closures and headaches now, but millions in Transportation Investment Act spending is enhancing safety and interconnectedness for commuters on River Watch Parkway, officials said at a meeting Thursday.
Tim Knight, a project manager for HDR construction, said the River Watch projects were “his favorite” among the many funded by the regional transportation sales tax.
“Citizens, as they travel through there, they’ve gained the most,” he said.
In 2012, voters across a 13-county region approved collecting a 1 percent tax for 10 years to fund about $728 million in road projects, in 2011 dollars. Only three areas in Georgia approved implementing the new tax.
The River Watch projects make up about $45 million paid from the tax. None are complete, and all but one, a $40 million extension of River Watch to intersect Washington Road in Evans, is in Augusta-Richmond County. Half the funding for the extension is coming from the TIA.
River Watch improvements at the Furys Ferry and Stevens Creek intersections are nearly done, Knight said. Landscaping and lighting between the nearby railroad crossing and the River Shoals Drive intersection will create a “gateway into Augusta” that will “look really nice,” he said.
Between River Shoals and 15th Street, the road has changed to two separate roads with a median, Knight said. Final surfacing will begin soon, he said.
New lighting between River Shoals and downtown that many commuters have criticized as overdone performs as planned, Knight said.
“It keeps light on the shoulders of the road” without bleeding into the night sky. “It really looks good. But the main thing is, it’s safe.”
Tony Collins, a Georgia Department of Transportation TIA construction manager, said the Columbia County portion – the widening of Old Petersburg Road between Baston Road and Washington Road in Evans – is 58 percent complete.
Started in 2013, its intended completion date is April of next year, Collins said.
Steve Cassell, Columbia County’s engineering director, praised the project he helped to develop while assistant director in Augusta.
“That’s an exciting project, going all the way from Washington Road in Columbia County to downtown Augusta,” he said. “From a regional mobility project, you can’t get much better.”