Bridge could be named for former mayor Hamilton

Rainier Ehrhardt/Staff
A new bridge, part of St. Sebastian Way expansion, spans the Augusta Canal. Commissioner Don Grantham has proposed the bridge be named after former Augusta mayor Hugh Hamilton Sr.

Commissioner Don Grantham wants to name a new bridge to honor an important former mayor, he says.

The bridge, part of the St. Sebastian Way expansion project and spanning the Augusta Canal's first level at Walton Way, would bear the name of Hugh Lamar Hamilton Sr. if the proposal goes through city commission.

Hamilton, mayor of Augusta from 1952-1958, had a big hand in weakening the Cracker Party, once a driving force in city politics, Grantham said.

Born in 1920, Hamilton ran for city council as an Independent in 1951, then became the city's youngest mayor in 1952. In 1970, he was elected to Augusta City Council, serving until his death in 1974.

His tenure was a busy time for construction of projects still in use today, such as Gordon Highway, which opened in 1954; Augusta's Municipal Building, which opened in 1958, and the former main library on Greene Street, which opened in 1960.

"Additionally, Mr. Hamilton was instrumental in completing the annexation of the Forest Hills neighborhood, which significantly expanded the city's boundaries and population," Augusta Engineering Department Director Abie Ladson said.

Hamilton has many descendants in the area, including son Hugh Hamilton Jr., Grantham said.

"It was requested by the family, as well as other people who had known Hugh for a number of years," Grantham said. "It's a new bridge; it's not complicated by having to go through any legal matter of changing names."

Naming the city bridge falls within the scope of the commission, Interim General Counsel Andrew Mackenzie confirmed at a Monday meeting of the city engineering committee. The matter goes before the full commission Tuesday.

The St. Sebastian expansion project includes two other new bridges that will need names, Commissioner Joe Bowles noted.

The project, with an expected completion date of July 31, encompasses an extension of St. Sebastian Way from Walton Way over the first and third levels of the Augusta Canal to Reynolds Street; a widening and expansion of Greene Street from the CSX railroad crossing to 15th Street; improvements to 15th Street from Butt Bridge to Reynolds Street and the construction or widening of six bridges, including an off-ramp from River Watch Parkway to Greene Street.