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Parkways could tie Augusta together

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ShieldsDESIGN LLC president John Shields gave a status report of sorts Thursday on his ongoing citywide master plan, saying that what Augusta needs to tie its differing regions together is a system of pedestrian-friendly, landscaped parkways.

The parkways would overlay existing roads, which would be beautified, reworked and refitted with accompanying bike and walking trails, so that a bicyclist could comfortably ride from Blythe to downtown Augusta, or from east Augusta to Augusta Exchange shopping center.

Around these thoroughfares, and at key intersections, would be opportunities for compact, mixed-use communities, Mr. Shields said. Sewer expansion could be limited to areas where the city encourages intensive residential and commercial development, then public transit routes could be set to accommodate these clusters, making the bus system viable again.

"We don't believe that the Augusta that you see today is going to be the Augusta that you see tomorrow," Mr. Shields told an audience of about 45 at Augusta Technical College.

What he presented Thursday was only a draft of a draft, his consolidated findings after three public meetings and interviews with city commissioners, department heads and community leaders.

A draft report will be presented in mid-February, then the final master plan, which the commission ordered at a cost of $500,000, is to be presented July 31.

Some of the proposed parkways on his working map run along River Watch Parkway, Broad Street and Wheeler, Washington and Tobacco roads, but the one he described as being most crucial he termed the "farm to city line," telling the story of Augusta from its most rural to its most urban.

It would start in Blythe, run along Georgia Highway 88 through Hephzibah, go north along Windsor Spring Road past Diamond Lakes Regional Park, continue north on Richmond Hill Road past Regency Mall, hook onto Deans Bridge Road, connect to Martin Luther King Boulevard, then head into the city core by way of 15th Street.

"I think it would be a terrific way for Augusta to come together," Mr. Shields said of his parkways proposal, "in perhaps a way that it has not heretofore."

His map also cut out nine "key action areas" that should be the focus of future projects.

An important one, he said, will be around the intersection of Windsor Spring and Tobacco roads, an area termed Windsor Spring Town Center, which could have a walkable, town center-type development with shops and new housing.

In one called West Augusta, Mr. Shields mentioned establishing an amphitheater as part of a possible collaboration with Augusta National Golf Club. In another, called Old City, he reiterated his recommendation from his earlier downtown master plan that the John C. Calhoun Expressway be lowered to ground level, because it splits the Harrisburg neighborhood in half.

His South Gate area includes the Regency Mall site, which was a sore subject during the question-and-answer session.

Mr. Shields said he does not foresee the free market solving the problems of the Gordon Highway/Deans Bridge Road intersection anytime soon. Development has moved elsewhere in the city, and that stretch of highway is anything but pedestrian-friendly.

"Part of the reason that Regency Mall is not going anywhere is because of the rest of the area," he said.

His team's economic consultant, Jim Hartling of Urban Partners, told the group that because the intersection lies in the center of the city, it might be a good place for government, health and senior services.

"Perhaps Fort Gordon could cause something to fall out of the sky," Mr. Hartling said of the mall building.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

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Comments (17) Add comment
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Riverman1
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Riverman1 11/13/09 - 06:00 am
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Gee whiz, pow, bam, Batman,

Gee whiz, pow, bam, Batman, let's build a greenparkway.

omnomnom
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omnomnom 11/13/09 - 06:30 am
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hahah, lowering Calhoun

hahah, lowering Calhoun Expressway? thats hilarious! And yes, national guard troops are probably the only thing that will help make that part of Gordon Highway safe for new retail. Very prescient of you Mr. Hartling.

jebko
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jebko 11/13/09 - 06:38 am
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Odd... you drive on a parkway

Odd... you drive on a parkway and park on a driveway!

RoadkiII
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RoadkiII 11/13/09 - 09:48 am
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"Suspect last seen eastbound

"Suspect last seen eastbound on a lowrider Schwinn"

bettyboop
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bettyboop 11/13/09 - 10:28 am
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"We don't believe that the

"We don't believe that the Augusta that you see today is going to be the Augusta that you see tomorrow," ........LOL ain't that a mouthful!!!!!! The Augusta you see tomorrow will look much like Somalia.

dashiel
176
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dashiel 11/13/09 - 11:46 am
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Give that girl a show, y'all.

Give that girl a show, y'all. Funniest comment today, bettyboop.

Atlantatransplant
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Atlantatransplant 11/13/09 - 12:59 pm
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I've only lived here for a

I've only lived here for a short time now but it seems as if every time someone propses an idea like this or the proposed baseball stadium or the TEE center, everyone jumps on here and bashes anything that is said. It seems as if nothing gets done around here because some people are opposed to change. Change is not always a bad thing. I agree, I have driven down some of these areas mentioned above and they don't exactly strike me as the best places in the world but this proposal is a "draft of a draft," and in less than four comments it's already being beat up.

gnx
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gnx 11/13/09 - 01:40 pm
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We're not opposed to positive

We're not opposed to positive change, just change that's going to cost the taxpayers big money with little or no return. The planning commission seems to prefer the latter. Those of us who have lived here a while have seen enough to know that most proposed improvements will turn out to be exactly the opposite of what was promised, so we pretty much have a right to be skeptical every time a new idea is proposed. Discussions are fine, but it certainly seems wasteful to spend good money on studies when that money is desperately needed elsewhere in the county.

Ben There
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Ben There 11/13/09 - 02:13 pm
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Not knowing the details, this

Not knowing the details, this all seems like a very good study. Makes a whole lot more sense than the Ellis St Canal and the downtown trolley cars. After lowering the Calhoun Expressway, please get rid of the levee too!

EXAUGUSTAGUY
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EXAUGUSTAGUY 11/13/09 - 02:52 pm
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Great new ways to spend more

Great new ways to spend more tax dollars! The Brain Trust at it again.
From the same folks who gave us the Civic Center, Ga. Golf Hall of Fame, Tee Center, Trolley Lines, The Parking Deck on Greene Street.
Lets reduce government spending and waste.

Atlantatransplant
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Atlantatransplant 11/13/09 - 03:42 pm
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Thanks gnx for a logical

Thanks gnx for a logical explanation and not just a bashing.

Fiat_Lux
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Fiat_Lux 11/13/09 - 05:23 pm
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I like this idea a lot. I

I like this idea a lot. I know it would have a long way to go before the completely unrealistic parts got weeded out, but what a boon it would be to have public transportation that works for the whole community. It also would be wonderful to be able to ride my bike wherever I wanted to go. That would make such a difference to a lot of people, especially if there were places where you could get cleaned up before showing up at your desk for work.

corgimom
32615
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corgimom 11/13/09 - 11:37 pm
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If they lowered the Calhoun

If they lowered the Calhoun Expressway, where would all the people go that live under the bridge? Atlantatransplant, no, the problem is that there are too many people that want to keep Augusta just the way it's always been. You will learn. Augusta is the most racially divided city in Georgia, and that's what certain people don't want to change.

corgimom
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corgimom 11/13/09 - 11:43 pm
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The parkway idea is a great

The parkway idea is a great idea in theory. In actuality, if your house backs up onto a parkway without a barrier or an 8' solid fence (and most places don't allow that), your life is hell, and buy a lot of theft insurance, you will need it. It is impossible to have any kind of effective police patrol on any of it, and the criminals quickly discover that. It gives burglars a wonderful way to approach the back of your house without causing suspicion. People in Charlotte are now suing the city and county when they want to build one in their backyards, to stop them. They are great to use but terrible if you live there. And if you build them in wooded areas, then you get the rapists and the robbers.

falconjag
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falconjag 11/14/09 - 12:27 am
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I'm new to posting but I've

I'm new to posting but I've been a lurker for a while and I am curious: Do you people expect the Construction Fairy to sprinkle some magic dust on Reynolds Street and POOF there is a free, state of that art facility for us to use? On the other hand, any downtown development is obviously a scam by Billy Morris to line his pockets. And while we're at it let's fire everybody that works for the city because they are obviously lazy and overpaid. OK, enough sarcasm: I've done the homework to check this out and Augusta citizens don't carry a horrible tax burden compared to other cities our size. We've got a great town here, folks! Accentuate the positive! If you want your house to look better you go to Lowe's or Home Depot and you spruce it up, add on, or otherwise make improvements. The city's got to do the same thing, or we might as well be a dead end like Albany, GA. A TEE Center and Riverfront Development and Bike Trails, etc. will help our local economy and push "taxes" to visitors. If no one comes to Augusta (except ONE week a year) tax dollars are all we've got, so get your checkbooks out, Nancy Negative and Donny Doomsday.

bettyboop
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bettyboop 11/14/09 - 07:20 am
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The only thing you said that

The only thing you said that makes any sense falcon is to fire the city workers...commissioners ALL of them and start over with a New charter that Gives the Mayor a vote.The system as it is written is doing what it was ment to do cause dissention between the races... because the one who wrote the thing is now in jail...he thought he would be the hero.... turned out he was the turd.

corgimom
32615
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corgimom 11/14/09 - 03:56 pm
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No, they don't carry a

No, they don't carry a horrible tax burden, they just can't afford what is already required. Augusta is much higher than other Georgia cities in social services programs and poverty and poor schools. Between the loss of the textile industries, the crack cocaine problem that was ignored, and the Malls and the desertion of downtown, the tax base just isn't there any more. It's an economically depressed city and it's already too late.

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