Wrightsboro Road is donning a new look, while keeping parts of its past intact.
In particular, the roadside spring that has served countless thousands of thirsty patrons is being spared as contractors widen the once-rural road from two to four lanes.
“The project has been designed to avoid the well, and all efforts have been made to minimize impacts to the spring area, and to minimize inconveniences during construction,” said spokeswoman Cissy McNure of the Georgia Department of Transportation.
The well, housed within the moss-covered walls of a vintage spring house, has been a mainstay for many Augustans since it was built in the 1930s to provide water to nearby Sue Reynolds Elementary School.
After a decade of planning, Reeves Construction Co. of Macon was awarded an $18.6 million contract last fall to widen 2.5 miles of the road between Bobby Jones Expressway in Augusta and Jimmie Dyess Parkway near the Columbia County line.
Efforts to protect the well go back many years, to public hearings in which patrons highlighted the site’s environmental and historical significance, McNure said.
“After the public meetings they had, the department acknowledged that Flowing Wells springs is an important natural respource,” she said.
During construction, which began in early January with the removal of trees and stumps along the project right-of-way, visitors may have limited access to the well, but only temporarily.
Efforts will be made, however, to improve safety at the site, which can become crowded with patrons filling and loading containers of water.
“We’re not doing any harm to the spring itself, but they are having to – because of sight distance – shift the drive (pulloff area) a little, which will create room for additional parking in the area,” she said.
According to historical accounts, in the late 1930s and 1940s, the well was owned by the Murray family of Illinois, which operated the Flowing Wells Water Co. until sometime after World War II. The site has had multiple owners since then.