Work to shore up segment of Augusta Canal towpath

About a mile of the Augusta Canal's popular towpath will close on weekdays starting Monday, when the Augusta Utilities Department begins a long-awaited stabilization project.

"The area that will be closed is about 5,500 feet, just over one mile," said Jody Crabtree, a civil engineer with the department. "It will be just upstream from the pumping station to just downstream from the I-20 bridge crossing."

The work involves installing a compacted clay buttress about 10 feet high along the river edge of the narrowest portion of the canal embankment, he said. "It's been there 160 years with no problems, but it was also identified in earlier studies as one of the weaker areas of the canal."

The canal, in addition to being a popular National Heritage Area and recreation spot, also serves as the primary supplier of the city's drinking water. The improvements are part of a planned series of projects that have included renovations to the municipal water production system.

The gates blocking public access will be located at each end of the construction area, and will be closed Monday through Friday, but will be kept open on Saturdays and Sundays; and on holidays including Thanksgiving Day, the day after Thanksgiving (Nov. 26 and 27), Christmas Eve, Christmas Day (Dec. 24 and 25), New Year's Day (Jan. 1) and Martin Luther King Jr. Day (Jan. 18), Mr. Crabtree said.

Although the project has been planned for some time, the city was awaiting approval from the Army Corps of Engineers and Georgia's State Historic Preservation Office.

Mr. Crabtree said the work should be completed around mid-February, but that date could change depending on weather.

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