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Public views plan to narrow Laney-Walker through GRU campus

Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2013 12:03 AM
Last updated Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013 9:23 PM
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The public got a first look Tuesday at plans to narrow Laney-Walker Boulevard between 15th Street and R.A. Dent Boulevard to improve the safety of pedestrians crossing through the Georgia Regents Uni­versity campus.

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Augusta Commission member Alvin Mason (right) and Charles J. Smith, the president of the Augusta NAACP branch, look over the proposed plans for Laney-Walker Boulevard.   EMILY ROSE BENNETT/STAFF
Augusta Commission member Alvin Mason (right) and Charles J. Smith, the president of the Augusta NAACP branch, look over the proposed plans for Laney-Walker Boulevard.

The proposal reduces the stretch of road from four lanes to two, adds six raised crosswalks and a series of chicanes – curves that will slow traffic and add to the aesthetic.

“In fun terms, it’s a road diet,” said Chris Mutter, the project manager for the HGOR landscape architects who created the design.

The narrowing of Laney-Walker through GRU was called “a compromise” by many at an open house at the Lucy Craft Laney Museum of Black History, where plans were on display Tuesday. It is an alternative to GRU President Ricardo Azziz’s suggestion in 2010 to close the road completely, which some said would block access for residents who live in the historically black area.

“We were concerned there would be a disconnect by closing it, and it would close us off and hamper us,” said Scylance Scott, the executive director of Antioch Min­is­tries, which is housed on Laney-Walker. “I think the two lanes are a compromise as opposed to closing it all together. For safety concerns, a narrow road works, and it keeps it open.”

Mutter said the proposal must be approved by the city’s engineering department, then the Au­gusta Com­mis­sion. Con­struc­tion could take four to six months.

All the design aspects were created with pedestrian safety in mind, Mutter said. The curves slow drivers and the raised crosswalks encourage cars to come almost to a stop.

With about 8,000 vehicles and 8,500 pedestrians traveling through the stretch each day, safety has become a focus. A 2011 Augusta Chron­icle analysis showed eight pedestrians had been struck by vehicles since 1995 on the two-block section through campus.

Commissioner Al­vin Mason said the proposal is a perfect balance of keeping access to the Laney-Walker neighborhood while addressing safety concerns.

“What you see here is an opportunity to keep the street open and have the foot traffic still going through,” he said.

Vanessa Merriweather, the owner of Sew Sister on Laney-Walker, said she wanted to see more statistical evidence of how a narrower road would calm traffic. She said hiring crossing guards and improving crosswalks would improve safety and keep the road the same.

“It’s like constricting a vein and expecting it to function better,” she said. “It was a lot of time and a lot of money for what? You narrowed the piece of road for (GRU), but what about the rest of the community?”


Laney-Walker Boulevard would be reduced from four lanes to two as it passes through Georgia Regents University.

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fdn315 01/09/13 - 01:27 am
Wonder who's going to foot

Wonder who's going to foot the bill for the wrightsboro rd to 15th st access to be built to alleviate the congestion this would most certainly cause?

countyman 01/09/13 - 02:26 am

This is a wonderful time to live in the city of Augusta. The entire county will reap the benefits from the wealth being spread around. I can think of multiple areas in the county with several new developments. I had to separate the Augusta Exchange by itself, and will have to do the same with the Village at Riverwatch & Carmax area aka Wheeler Town Park in the future.
1. CBD(Holiday Inn Express, James Brown Boulevard streetscape, Farmhaus Burgers/7 apts, Sprint Food Metro Market)
2. West Augusta(Home Goods/NCG Cinemas at the Village at Riverwatch, Harrington Park Health, two 4k sq. ft. retail buildings in front of Kroger, widening of Wrightsboro rd)
3. South Augusta(General Perry Smith Pkwy/Augusta Regional Industrial Park, Hampton Inn hotel, Starbucks, Mike Padgett construction)
4. Harrisburg(Cook out restaurant, 25 acre development on 15th)
5. Laney Walker(New residential, parks, businesses)
6. Southwest Augusta(25 acre shopping center, 10k sq. ft. Shoppes at Dyess Park, 13 acre shopping center)
7. Medical District(pedestrian park, cancer center, medical commons, 25 acre development on 15th street)
8. Augusta Exchange(Residence Inn by Marriott, Medac expansion 70 jobs, 44 acre development at I-520/Walton Way Extension, Home 2 Suites By Hilton)

JRC2024 01/09/13 - 09:17 am
Looks good to me.

Looks good to me.

Bulldog1 01/09/13 - 09:29 am
Campus Speedway

It's about time that this "speedway" through the campus was tamed. I can't imagine why anyone doesn't understand the need for slowing access on this one block.

smartasugarsugar 01/09/13 - 09:53 am
another example of money wasted on unneccessary "improvements"

i worked down there a year on that street and its so congested sometimes the whole area needs to be reworked. reducing it to 2 lanes = more congestion. what they need to do is use that cash to make access from Wrightsboro rd and 15th street that would alleviate some of the drive around traffic. for instance people trying to get to the new dental school have to come down to LW and loop back or take some of those side streets and loop back. spread the traffic out so people have more options and easier access to what they need. then we can discuss reducing LW. in short if you reduce LW now its will be a cluster.

metalhead 01/10/13 - 01:50 am
To Countyman

It doesn't take long to look over the census data from the past 10 years to show the city of Augusta and its tax base are in decline. A few burger joints and chain hotels is not the type of growth the city requires.

ohcanwesee 01/10/13 - 11:59 am
Why do they keep talking

Why do they keep talking about the history of Laney walker? The part they are wanting to improve is the hospital area, what history is that? MCG?

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