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Five concepts will be presented for Berckmans Road realignment project

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A proposed widening of Berckmans Road and realignment of the thoroughfare with Alexander Drive will require land and right-of-way acquisition if the project moves forward. Five options for the project will be presented at a public meeting Tuesday afternoon.

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A sign along Berckmans Road announces the public meeting to discuss the realignment of the road with Alexander Drive.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
A sign along Berckmans Road announces the public meeting to discuss the realignment of the road with Alexander Drive.

Augusta Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell said the $20.3 million project is intended to improve connectivity from River Watch Parkway to west Augusta. Major changes to the path of Berckmans Road are proposed for the northern section that currently borders the Augusta National Golf Club.

From Ingleside Drive to Washington Road, Berckmans Road could be widened to four traffic lanes with a center left turn lane or median from Ingleside Drive to Washington roads. The road must be redirected to align with Alexander Drive about 0.3 mile west of its current intersection with Washington Road.

“The big question is at what point do we start bending it over to take it to Alexander,” Cassell said.

Cassell said the project is in “very early” planning stages and no detailed design work or grading plans have been made. Construction funding for the project awaits voter approval on a referendum to collect a new 1 percent regional sales tax for transportation.

If the measure passes July 31, Richmond County is projected to collect $277.5 million over 10 years. Under the transportation law, the project must be completed by 2022. Although currently scheduled to begin in 2020, Cassell said an earlier start date is possible.

From Wheeler Road to Ingleside Drive, the thoroughfare’s path will remain much as it is currently, with the possible addition of a circular intersection, or roundabout, at the Ingleside intersection.

One business that could be affected by a realignment is Jay’s Music and Sound Super Center at the intersection of Washington Road. Owner Vera Frohman fears the music store’s profits will be slashed by changes in traffic patterns.

“I’m very concerned. It’s an access road to my business, and they’re about to cut me off,” Frohman said. “There is nothing good about this at all.”

Since 1994, customers have entered the store through a driveway on Berckmans Road. A change to the road would also affect visibility by passing drivers at what is now a busy intersection with a traffic light, she said.

If the realignment proposal moves forward, the new path will have to traverse land owned by the Augusta National, Cassell said. Some of the concepts use existing roadways on Heath and Stanley drives through that land.

“That’s a given. It’s just how we go through that,” Cassell said about directing Berckmans Road through the large, grassy field used as parking lots one week a year during the annual Masters tournament.

Cassell said any plan adopted will address access to homes and businesses. None of the proposals attempt to cut a new road through the neighborhood that sits off Berckmans Road above Rae’s Creek.

Jerry Thacker lives in one of three houses remaining across the road from the Augusta National on the 400 block of Berckmans Road. Thacker is curious what compensation will be offered for land acquired to widen the road, but he’s reserving judgment about the realignment proposal until he sees the concepts at Tuesday’s meeting.

After the input is received at that meeting, Cassell said, the five proposals will likely be narrowed down. Construction costs, bridging streams and pedestrian crossings during the Masters will be considered.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: Public meeting about the Berckmans Road project

WHEN: Tuesday, 4-7 p.m.

WHERE: Julian Smith Casino, 2200 Broad St.

Comments (10) Add comment
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nothin2show4it
120
Points
nothin2show4it 06/11/12 - 07:22 am
0
0
Tax Increase?
Unpublished

Why put this burden on people who shop in Richmond Co? This is for the Augusta National. Let them pay for it.

seenitB4
81253
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seenitB4 06/11/12 - 07:42 am
1
0
Progress

You can't stop progress now can you....btw the roundabouts work well in this area.....I like them.

obkad
211
Points
obkad 06/11/12 - 08:19 am
3
0
Berckmans Road

What the Augusta National wants, the Augusta National gets!!!

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 06/11/12 - 08:29 am
1
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they seem awfully sure that

they seem awfully sure that tsplost will pass. oh well.

seenitB4
81253
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seenitB4 06/11/12 - 08:59 am
1
0
ya right

obkad has it right.....it is coming....

Little Lamb
43827
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Little Lamb 06/11/12 - 10:53 am
2
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Eminent Domain

From the article:

If the realignment proposal moves forward, the new path will have to traverse land owned by the Augusta National, Cassell said.

Yeah, and when government takes land from a private organization or individual, they have to compensate them at fair market value. When the Augusta National bought that land, the fair market value was set by the outlandish prices they had to pay to get homeowners to sell voluntarily.

The city will have to pay enormous amounts to get the land and the rights of way. It will be fun to watch. However, the process will be slow, like watching paint dry.

Think about how long we've been waiting for the Old Petersburg Road widening project.

grinder48
1753
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grinder48 06/11/12 - 11:24 am
0
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Who says ? ? ?
Unpublished

From the article: "The road must be redirected to align with Alexander Drive ..." Who says?

kiwiinamerica
924
Points
kiwiinamerica 06/11/12 - 11:39 am
0
0
What a crock!
Unpublished

Uh......Berckmans Road already traverses land owned by the Augusta National. This has nothing to do with improving traffic flow. Berckmans Road as it currently stands is not a congested road and there is no problem connecting to Alexandra Drive and River Watch. This is all about uniting the property owned by the Augusta National on its western periphery and pushing traffic away from the National. That was always the plan. Once the National bought all the property from Berckmans Road to Publix, this was a given. The National now has a vast expanse of property with a public thoroughfare running through it.

The new "realignment" will essentially go around the National's new property. Oh, and the process will not be slow! This is not just any old road in Augusta. This is a road which runs by the National. It will be sorted really quickly and despite this facade of a public meeting, I bet they know NOW what the plan is going to be.

Discussionstarter
467
Points
Discussionstarter 06/11/12 - 12:45 pm
1
0
Hopefully The Augusta National will do what is right

Alexander Drive was redone for the annual golf event. I am sure The Augusta National will support the City of Augusta in funding these proposed changes.

swimmer3
15
Points
swimmer3 06/11/12 - 01:18 pm
2
0
berkman's road

Article would be a whole lot improved if maps were included that showed the options under consideration.

Austin Rhodes
2852
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Austin Rhodes 06/11/12 - 01:18 pm
1
0
Whoa there, NELLIE

Keep in mind...the area is STILL zoned residential. Since the National paid outlandish prices independent of legitimate market factors, do not be so sure that they would automatically get that back. Besides...these improvements will make tournament traffic flow much better...why wouldn't they want to cooperate?

broad street narrow mind
348
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broad street narrow mind 06/11/12 - 02:27 pm
0
0
pretty sure angc will
Unpublished

pretty sure angc will "cooperate." might even be their "idea."

OIC
17
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OIC 06/11/12 - 08:26 pm
0
0
It will be a land swap with

It will be a land swap with the Augusta National receiving the remaining piece of their puzzle. Whats all this talk about fair value. The Augusta National has been after Berckman Road. I am against the proposal. This is not a win-win for local commuters. Some of us locals will have to take a permanent detour to get to the Fresh Market or Surrey Center depending on which side you are on. I will have to travel further West to get to work downtown when traveling on Berckman. Leave the road alone for it benefits far more people during the other 51 weeks of the year.

Little Lamb
43827
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Little Lamb 06/12/12 - 08:20 am
0
0
Maps

Welcome to the discussion group, Swimmer3. Your suggestion is a good one, but remember that this news story merely announces the public meeting where the maps will be revealed. After the meeting today the Chronicle will report again and will likely include links to maps.

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