Bridge will open river's shoals

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The Savannah River's inviting shoals will become more accessible within six weeks when workers assemble a new bridge across the Augusta Canal.

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Mike and Laura Blaivas, of Evans, walk along the canal towpath, where workers are installing a new pedestrian bridge. The three-section steel bridge will cross the canal just downstream from the headgates in Columbia County.  Andrew Davis Tucker/Staff
Andrew Davis Tucker/Staff
Mike and Laura Blaivas, of Evans, walk along the canal towpath, where workers are installing a new pedestrian bridge. The three-section steel bridge will cross the canal just downstream from the headgates in Columbia County.

The three-section steel bridge was engineered and manufactured in Alabama - then trucked to a parking lot at the canal headgates area last month.

Workers are installing pilings and other structures that will hold the bridge, which will span the canal just downstream from the headgates.

The 10-foot-wide bridge resembles a similar span over Martintown Road that is part of North Augusta's Greeneway, said Dayton Sherrouse, the executive director of the Augusta Canal Authority.

As part of the $521,168 project financed by the National Park Service, Columbia County sales tax dollars and the canal authority, two canoe and kayak launch sites also are being installed.

"For the canal, the launch site is just upstream of the bridge," he said.

Across the bridge on the towpath, another launch site has been created with the construction of a wide, sturdy staircase from the towpath down to the Savannah River.

The access point will enable canoeists to launch directly into the river, where they can enjoy the nearby shoals and rocky islands.

Both launch areas also are expected to be open within six weeks, he said.

"They have to finish pouring the foundation for the piers and set the bridge in place," he said. "Once that is done the launch sites will be accessible."

The new bridge is designed to ease pedestrian traffic on the narrow walkway over the canal headgates, where strollers, bicyclists and people walking pets often cross.

"The main purpose of this bridge is to get the active users - bicyclists and joggers and such - to use the new area," he said.

The headgates walkway will remain open.

Reach Rob Pavey at (706) 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.

THE IMPACT:

A new bridge and canoe and kayak launch areas will make it easier for visitors to the Augusta Canal National Heritage Area to launch directly into the Savannah River shoals.

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