Davidson parents face delays

School officials plan to check with the city this week about having construction work near Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School completed as soon as possible. School officials said the city told them the work would be completed by the start of school.

Alonza Martin has come up with his own way of avoiding the traffic jam at Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School when he comes to pick up his daughter in the afternoon.

Instead of joining the logjam of cars at 12th and Telfair streets caused by a long ongoing construction zone, he parks in a commercial lot nearby.

"It's been very congested. I just park here and wait on her," said Martin, whose daughter, Diamond, attends the school.

Ray Marks also parks there and walks to the school to pick up his son.

Richmond County school officials say the situation near Davidson is something they're going to address once again with city officials to speed up remaining work there. At issue is the city's D'Antignac Street Drainage Improvements project, which had the exit to Davidson's front parking lot closed much of last school year. Initially, the school's principal said she had been told that the work, which began around last Christmas break, would be finished in a matter of weeks. The exit, however, stayed closed throughout the rest of the school year.

On the first day of school Monday, the Davidson exit had been reopened just as city officials promised the school system, but school officials said they were also under the impression that all of the work on 12th would be finished by the time classes began. That hadn't occurred by Monday, and on Wednesday work was still blocking one end of 12th Street, adding to the traffic jam as school let out. Motorists entering the school off the Telfair end of 12th Street had to circle back to that end of 12th to leave.

Marks said that with the parking lot exit now open it's causing more confusion.

"It actually worked better (when the exit was closed last year). Everybody knew what to do," he said, noting that some parents are now trying to enter at the other end of 12th Street, which remained closed Wednesday as workers used machinery to continue digging up the road near a CSX railroad line.

Augusta Engineering Director Abie Ladson said Wednesday that all of the work along 12th Street should be finished within one to one and a half months, pending good weather. He said the project has been delayed by five or six months, mostly because there was a holdup getting a permit from CSX to dig under the railroad. He said there also were weather delays and in some cases they discovered unexpected things while digging -- including some buried pilings.

Ladson said before the construction work started, traffic congestion was typical at the school. But, he agreed things are worse with one end of 12th Street closed and said the city would do its best to speed the work along.

"We're doing everything we can," he said.

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