Jay’s Music Center, at the corner of Berckmans and Washington roads, began collecting names 2½ weeks ago to stop the project, which is funded by the 1 percent regional sales tax for transportation projects.
The tax, to be collected beginning in January, allocates $16.7 million for widening Berckmans Road and $3.7 million to replace a bridge on the road over Rae’s Creek.
“Berckmans Road is not broken,” said Jay’s Music Center owner Doug Frohman. “This $16 million project is basically a waste of taxpayer money.”
Large signs outside the store read “Save Berckmans Road.” More than 300 people have signed the petition in the store, Frohman said.
The northern section of Berckmans Road, which borders Augusta National Golf Club, will be redirected to align with Alexander Drive, less than a half-mile from where it now intersects Washington Road at National Hills shopping center.
Just south of Heath Drive, the road would turn west, cutting through Augusta National’s parking lots. It would have two traffic lanes with a center turn lane.
According to the law that created the transportation tax, all projects on a final approved list must have construction started by 2023.
Mike Dover, the Georgia Department of Transportation’s administrator for the tax, said such a petition would likely not halt a project. The allocated funds must be used according to the law, he said.
“I don’t want to say that would kill the project,” Dover said. “Our intent is to meet the scope (of the project) that was approved in the final investment list.”
Every project goes through a public comment stage to help mitigate design problems and residents’ concerns, he said.
Two public meetings were held in June and September about Berckmans Road. The final design was narrowed down from five concepts and changed to two lanes instead of four. The design includes a short access road from Washington Road to the Jay’s Music Center parking lot.
Frohman said the redesign benefits Augusta National and hurts drivers who travel from west Augusta and the Summerville neighborhood toward his store and the National Hills shopping center. The store, in business since 1945 and at its current location since 1992, will lose customers, he said.
Frohman said he plans to start a walking campaign in nearby shopping centers and neighborhoods to collect more signatures before presenting them to the Augusta Commission.