Construction is set to begin the first week of February on an improved route for Columbia County commuters, according to Georgia Department of Transportation.
River Watch Parkway will be extended three miles to connect with Washington Road in Evans. The existing Old Petersburg and Old Evans roads between Baston Road and Columbia Industrial Boulevard will be widened from two to four lanes to create the longer parkway, with a 20-foot raised median, sidewalks and bike lanes.
At Columbia Industrial Boulevard, a new road will be built to extend the parkway to Washington Road at its intersection with Towne Center Drive.
“Most of the folks who live in Columbia County commute into Richmond County daily,” said Matt Schlachter, the director of Columbia County engineering services. “Extending River Watch into Evans will provide an alternative route to alleviate congestion on Washington Road.”
The $34.2 million project will receive $20 million from the 1 percent transportation tax being collected in 13 area counties.
The project, scheduled to be complete in April 2017, includes building two bridges over the CSX Railroad and Reed Creek.
Widening the existing Old Petersburg and Old Evans roads, where many churches and homes are located, required significant right of way acquisition.
Jennifer McCray, who lives in Petersburg Station subdivision off Old Petersburg Road, said she has no issues with traffic on Old Petersburg Road but welcomes the road widening if it will ease the commute for others in Columbia County.
McCray’s husband drives River Watch Parkway to his office in downtown Augusta.
“Maybe it’s something they think they need in the future,” she said. “It’s never bumper-to-bumper traffic out there.”
Still, McCray said she’s concerned about exiting her neighborhood if a traffic light is not installed at the subdivision entrance.