A critical link in the Augusta Canal's multiuse trail network will move ahead soon after being stalled by right-of-way issues six years ago.
The $1.2 million, one-mile spur will include major bridges over the Sibley and King Mill tailrace areas and allow cyclists to veer off the towpath, cross under River Watch Parkway and emerge downtown near Waters Edge subdivision.
The project was first planned, funded and bid in 2005, but never commenced because the Canal Authority was unable to secure easements to cross the tailrace at Sibley Mill, said Dayton Sherrouse, the authority's executive director.
At the time, its owner -- Avondale Mills -- was trying to sell the property and did not want to encumber it with other issues. The obstacle was removed last August, when the Canal Authority purchased the mill and its adjoining land along the Savannah River.
"Since all the permits and approvals were done back in 2005, we've had to reapply for everything and get reapproved," Sherrouse said.
That process is almost complete, which makes it likely work can begin later this year.
The trail's two bridges will include a unique cable suspension span over the King Mill tailrace, while the bridge over the Sibley spillway will be similar to the pedestrian bridge already in use at the canal headgates area below Savannah Rapids Pavilion.
The trail spur is important because it will make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to access the 13th Street bridge to North Augusta's Greeneway.
Sherrouse said the project cost was $1.2 million in 2005, but might be cheaper when it is rebid this year because of increased competition in a tighter economy.
Approvals have already been affirmed from the U.S. Department of Transportation and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, and the authority is awaiting word from the Army Corps of Engineers.
Funding for the project was obtained through a U.S. Department of Transportation grant program.
The grant totals $825,000 and requires a 20 percent match, but the authority plans to match more than the requisite percentage to get the long overdue project completed, Sherrouse said.