When Steve Cassell gets out of his car on Broad Street in downtown Augusta, the door tries to close by itself. That’s a problem he attributes to an overly steep 8 percent grade on a road that needs work.
As the city’s traffic engineer, Cassell sees Broad Street as a patchwork of problems and quick fixes. Frequent maintenance issues keep road crews busy filling potholes or digging up pavement to reach systems underground, he said.
To modernize the antiquated and problem-ridden infrastructure system in downtown Augusta, Cassell hopes the public will vote to approve a special 1 percent sales tax transportation fund.
Improvements to Broad Street were allotted $25 million in the list of proposed projects that will receive funding if the vote passes next year. The CSRA regional transportation roundtable’s executive committee approved the list in mid-August after a series of meetings were held throughout the summer to narrow down the number and cost of projects. The full roundtable will grant final approval to the list after holding two public hearings.
“Basically, we’re proposing to rebuild the streets,” Cassell said. “A lot of that stuff is more than 100 years old.”
A 7-mile stretch of Broad Street running through the central business district from Washington Road to Sand Bar Ferry Road needs pavement resurfacing and a reconstruction of its curbs, gutters, sidewalks and storm drainage system, according to the project description.
Cassell said addressing infrastructure needs is critical to a continued revitalization of the downtown corridor.
“We’re dealing with a very old city with very old infrastructure,” he said. “If we ever want to move forward, we’ve got to do this.”
Additional proposals aim to address long-term maintenance needs of the city’s transportation network in downtown Augusta, said Andy Crosson, the executive director of the CSRA Regional Commission, in an e-mail statement. Similar infrastructure work was detailed in $19.2 million and $9.8 million proposals for Telfair and Greene streets, respectively.
Several bridge repair and reconstruction projects near downtown, including the Fifth Street bridge and bridges over the Augusta Canal at Seventh, Eleventh and Fifteenth streets, are slated for funds from the transportation tax, which still needs legislator and voter approval.
Although it could change, the public vote on the transportation tax is scheduled for the July 2012 general primaries. Collection will begin in 2013 if the tax passes.
The first of two public hearings required by the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 will be held Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Julian Smith Barbeque Pit, 3 Milledge Road. Project reports and descriptions will be available for review and comment.
Roads through downtown Augusta are major traffic arteries that warrant monetary investment, said Augusta Commissioner Joe Jackson, who serves on the CSRA regional transportation roundtable.
The Broad Street project could begin within the first three years of transportation tax collection, Jackson said.
Infrastructure along Broad Street is not immediately failing, but has needed tending to for nearly two decades as its condition worsens, Jackson said.