Public to get look at Interstate 20 bridge plans, has chance to comment

It won’t happen soon, but in about five or six years – if plans hold – area residents should be able to cross the river between Georgia and South Carolina on wider, safer Interstate 20 bridges.

 

The Georgia Department of Transportation released a series of artist’s renderings showing what the new bridges will look like when complete in 2022 or 2023, according to a news release.

The bridges will have three 12-foot travel lanes with 12-foot paved shoulders in each direction. They will be separated by a 2-foot, 4-inch concrete median barrier. Widening would begin 800 feet west of the Augusta Canal bridges and extend east beyond the first South Carolina interchange at Exit 1/West Martintown Road.

The Georgia agency is working with the South Carolina Department of Transportation on the project.

Construction is expected to begin in 2019 and last three to four years, according to the release.

The existing two-lane bridges have no shoulders and have been the site of multiple wrecks. Between 2013 and 2015, there were 42 crashes, including one death, on the Georgia side, according to GDOT.

In May, the driver of a pickup that plunged into the Augusta Canal was charged with drunken driving and vehicular homicide after a passenger died.

Tractor-trailers, in particular, seem to have had a difficult time on the narrow bridges, and several have plunged into the water. In 2016, a driver was found clinging to a tree after his truck crashed into the water, and in 2012 a driver was able to swim to safety after a similar incident.

The two bridges over the Augusta Canal were built in 1964, and the two bridges over the Savannah River were built the following year.

The annual average daily traffic across the bridges is 60,100 vehicles, with 13 percent of that being trucks. That number is expected to rise to 87,000 by 2037.

public comments

GDOT will hold a public information open house from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Tuesday at the Georgia Visitor Information Center so people can look at proposals for the planned replacement of the bridges.

Attendees can leave comments at the event or visit dot.ga.gov/PS/Public/PublicOutreach, or send a letter to Eric Duff, Georgia Department of Transportation, 600 W. Peachtree St., NW, 16th Floor, Atlanta, Ga., 30308.

Interstate 20 bridge over Augusta Canal and Savannah River, looking northeast from Georgia side.

 

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