Anna Kim wants to know what will happen to her family’s convenience store when 15th Street grows from two lanes to four. Preliminary land acquisition reports show more than half of the store’s property could be taken for new right-of-ways.
“The employees depend on this store. If we lose the store, they lose their income,” said Kim, whose parents own Short Stop One at the corner of Martin Luther King Boulevard and 15th Street. Kim was one of a handful of concerned residents at a public meeting Thursday night about a massive revitalization project for Augusta’s urban area from 15th Street to Martin Luther King Boulevard and Deans Bridge Road.
About 50 people attended the meeting focusing on forthcoming transportation projects, including the widening of 15th Street from Milledgeville Road to Government Road by the Georgia Department of Transportation. Pending final approval, right-of-way acquisition could begin in 2016 and construction in 2019.
Project managers also revealed designs for a yet-to-be-funded widening of Deans Bridge Road from Milledgeville Road to Gordon Highway. Residents concerned about losing land to right-of-way acquisition did not have all their questions answered at the meeting, but many said they were willing to wait while plans are finalized. Kim was offered one-on-one time with planners to go over her concerns.
“It’s a matter of knowing what I’m going to lose or gain in advance. We can be more supportive of the project if we have more answers,” said Karen Smith, who was concerned about a sign in front of her church, Ward Chapel AME on 15th Street.
Smith said she will return to a public meeting in October where project leaders said they will have more specific answers.
The right-of-way widths differ for every property, project leaders said. More will be acquired on the west side of 15th Street than the opposite side because existing historic areas and buildings cannot be disturbed.
“Some will be affected much more than others,” said John Paul Stout, the city’s sustainable development manager. “One lot might have a foot of frontage. One lot might have 4 feet.”
The GDOT project includes bike lanes and sidewalks on both sides of the road and a raised, landscaped median.