Laney-Walker Boulevard closure up for debate

Public can weigh in on effect of MCG request

Two proposals that would alter the flow of people and traffic in downtown Augusta go before an Augusta Commission committee today.

Medical College of Georgia's request to close Laney-Walker Boulevard to through traffic has already sparked "a great deal of interest" from community members possibly affected by the change, state Sen. Hardie Davis said.

The four-lane city street flanks the campus of Paine College at its western end, bisects MCG, then becomes the central artery through the Laney-Walker neighborhood.

Both Lucy Craft Laney High School and A.R. Johnson Health Science and Engineering Magnet School have addresses on Laney-Walker Boulevard.

Davis said he has been contacted by medical professionals who do business downtown, as well as other segments of the public, including those affected if through traffic had to take an alternate route. The nearest alternate routes around the health sciences university campus are Walton Way and Wrightsboro Road.

A 6 p.m. public meeting Tuesday at A.R. Johnson will give the public an opportunity to weigh in on the proposal, he said.

Placed on the agenda for discussion by Commissioner Don Grantham, the request will be heard by Augusta's engineering committee today. MCG President Dr. Ricardo Azziz or a representative is expected to present details to the committee.

Up for approval is another significant change, the addition of two levels to the city's parking deck now under construction on Reynolds Street.

Adding two levels to the deck would increase the available number of spaces from 450 to 650 while adding $3.3 million to the project's cost, but the city has leftover Special-Purpose, Local-Option Sales Tax 5 funds it can use, according to the proposal.

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