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Homeowners learn more about Berckmans Road widening, realignment

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Homeowners near the proposed Berckmans Road widening and realignment learned more Tuesday night about routes that would cut through their front yards if the project moves forward.

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Five routes were unveiled Tuesday to realign the existing northern section of Berckmans Road with Alexander Drive.  MEG MIRSHAK/STAFF
MEG MIRSHAK/STAFF
Five routes were unveiled Tuesday to realign the existing northern section of Berckmans Road with Alexander Drive.

At a public meeting, five routes were unveiled to realign the existing northern section of Berckmans Road with Alexander Drive less than a half-mile west of its current intersection with Washington Road. Conceptual designs propose building a new road starting at Heath Drive that meets the current Stanley Drive where a few houses are located.

Four routes, differing by slight curvatures, cut diagonally through property owned by Augusta National Golf Club and used as parking lots one week a year during the Masters Tournament. The fifth route makes a big curve to the west, bypassing Augusta National property, running behind the Publix Supermarket and then meeting Stanley Drive.

The new road segment would be four lanes divided by an 18-foot-wide, landscaped median with left turn lanes at key intersections. An estimated 107 feet to 120 feet would be needed for rights-of-way acquisition, according to a fact sheet provided to The Augusta Chronicle by Augusta Traffic Engineer Steve Cassell.

About 50 parcels are affected by potential rights-of-way use and temporary or permanent easements.

Stanley Drive homeowner Elizabeth Thacker said several of the proposed routes cut through her front yard, taking out trees and shrubbery. Although she’s reluctant to see the project moving forward, Thacker prefers the route that makes the steepest curve and avoids her lot and a rental property on the west side of Stanley Drive.

From Wheeler Road to Ingleside Drive, the existing two-lane path would be widened to add a center left turn lane. The rights-of-way width is estimated at 83 feet to 95 feet.

Funding for the $20.3 million project awaits a July 31 vote on a special 1 percent transportation tax referendum. Using referendum funding, the project is scheduled to begin in 2020, with completion by 2022.

Cassell said there are no alternates for funding at this time but said an earlier start date could be possible.

“Nothing has been decided. There’s a lot that has to happen in this project,” Cassell said.

He said the public comments would help decide the preferred realignment. More than 200 people attended in the first two hours of the three-hour meeting at Julian Smith Casino.

He also said no decisions have been made concerning the traffic light at Berckmans Road and Washington Road at the National Hills Shopping Center or what to do with the existing road if it is replaced.

Stephen Douglas owns a house on the 300 block of Heath Drive, just yards from Berckmans Road. Although the road could take away part of his yard, he favors the realignment if it benefits the Masters Tournament and moves noisy traffic farther from the golf course.

“Something needs to be done,” Douglas said.

Others at the meeting, including Sam Johnson, were concerned about the realignment negatively affecting their quick access to Surrey Center and Wheeler Road. Johnson said the project could influence his vote on the transportation tax referendum.

“I’m happy the way it is. I think it’s a waste of money,” said Johnson, who lives in the Forest Park neighborhood. “I think the Augusta National is behind it. They have some of the powers that be.”

Cassell declined to comment on input, if any, from Augusta National.

The plan also shows a new entrance to the Brookside West Apartment Complex that would align with Wicklow Drive, and a replacement of the Rae’s Creek bridge, which the report calls “structurally insufficient.”

Comments (43) Add comment
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Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 06/13/12 - 12:32 am
5
0
Am I missing something?

Am I missing something?

Nowhere does it say "why" this is being proposed.

For $20 million, we should get something other than a big bill.

livepura
49
Points
livepura 06/13/12 - 01:30 am
4
0
Fresh Market
Unpublished

It looks like The Fresh Market would be very wise to relocate once their lease is up because retail in National Hills will die like the Big Tree old Food Lion center. Electrolux will not be enough to keep Fresh Market open once the vital traffic source bringing Summerville and most of West Augusta's residential traffic bypasses National Hills Shopping Center. Well at least The Legends Club will likely have that space for expansion eventually.

countyman
19689
Points
countyman 06/13/12 - 02:35 am
3
2
The retail in the Big Tree

The retail in the Big Tree shopping center died because the Augusta National owns the property... They wanted Food Lion to leave in order to control a large portion of the surrounding land nearby(i.e Greens on Washington apt complex)...

This is why I'm glad the city, local developers, GHSU, and Blanchard-Calhoun are behind the 15th street development.. GHSU wants Kroger to leave sooner or later, and the Medical District can use a nice grocery store along with other restaurant-retail options..

The Washington Crossing shopping center with Outback on Washington is being renovated.. They've already replaced the former sign off Interstate 20 with a brand new one..

Just My Opinion
5453
Points
Just My Opinion 06/13/12 - 04:56 am
6
1
Insider, I'm with you....why

Insider, I'm with you....why are they shoving this down our throats?? I mean, if there's a very good reason, then okay, but I still don't remember any reason given. This is a ton of money, and it's going to change alot of people's driving and shopping habits. Personally, I don't know if the Augusta National is behind this or not. I wouldn't think so because they are obviously going to have to surrender control of some of their land for this project. But I've been wrong before.....

seenitB4
85044
Points
seenitB4 06/13/12 - 06:34 am
5
0
The National

The National will tell you when they get good & ready.......but since they bring tons of money into CSRA.....whatever Lola wants--Lola gets!!

jrbfromga
433
Points
jrbfromga 06/13/12 - 06:35 am
7
0
The Huge Curve
Unpublished

The more gradual curves are preferred. The huge curve which aligns with Stanley behind Publix makes the road not a road. However, I agree with the other posters...why should sales tax money be used for something that is obviously not necessary, except to benefit AGNC?

robaroo
715
Points
robaroo 06/13/12 - 06:48 am
1
3
Wrong Route

They should keep Berckman's right where it is now. Spend the money to purchase the property near Fresh Market and extend it down to Northwood.

That should have been done years ago before the shopping center got built up.

Gage Creed
16655
Points
Gage Creed 06/13/12 - 07:15 am
4
1
Just build a fly over like

Just build a fly over like they did on St. Sebastian .....

DuhJudge
206
Points
DuhJudge 06/13/12 - 07:20 am
6
0
Turning Berckmans into a four

Turning Berckmans into a four lane downhill raised median expressway to a one lane roundabout at Ingleside Road? In just one more mile that additional traffic ends up at Walton Way. Shouldn't that intersection be straightened out too?

Little Lamb
45190
Points
Little Lamb 06/13/12 - 07:33 am
6
0
T-SPLOST

From the story:

Funding for the $20.3 million project awaits a July 31 vote on a special 1 percent transportation tax referendum. Using referendum funding, the project is scheduled to begin in 2020, with completion by 2022.

Vote NO! on T-SPLOST.

Augusta resident
1368
Points
Augusta resident 06/13/12 - 07:34 am
7
0
Who in here actually believes

Who in here actually believes it'll cost $20 million? Ya'll know it'll be triple that by the time it's all said and done. All we have to do is vote no. Simple as that. And don't let Fred raise our taxes anyway just to do it. Matter of fact we shouldn't approve anything until we get other things we started done such as Villages at Riverwatch with high end stores and Bass Pro Shop ect........... It's a big empty field with a grocery store that you have to pay to go in.

belle
303
Points
belle 06/13/12 - 08:29 am
0
0
Feed your Gift Horse but don't look in his mouth.....
Unpublished

duhjudge, I agree that the intersection at walton way needs attention first. That said, we should never forget that Fort Gordon, SRS, GHSU and the Master's tournament are the sole reasons we are in the top of areas in the nation least affected by the recession. While we should not let these entities do whatever they want, we should do everything we can to keep them here and operating fully.

swimmer3
15
Points
swimmer3 06/13/12 - 08:35 am
5
0
Stiil no maps of the 5 proposals

Why doesn't the Chronicle display the maps that show the 5 proposed routes to connect Berckman's with Alexander? How can we comment if we don't know the proposals?

iLove
626
Points
iLove 06/13/12 - 08:41 am
5
0
More than likely the ANGC
Unpublished

More than likely the ANGC will not be touched in anyway.

Fiat_Lux
15037
Points
Fiat_Lux 06/13/12 - 08:45 am
8
0
Uh,

The most important aspect of this is to find out WHY it is so necessary, tout de suite. There is never any backed up traffic on Berckman Road, not even at the height of rush hour. Turning onto it does not cause traffic to back up on Washington Road either.

So what is the point in doing this?

At this point in time, it looks very much like private motives going after public funds. I, for one, want to know why we would commit ourselves to a project of this magnitude when it doesn't actually seem to benefit us. We have so many other roadway and traffic pattern issues that cry out for remediation on a daily basis, the Mike Padgett Dieway being the most notable example.

I realize different entities have responsibility for different roadways, but it would be governmental malfeasance to put this project ahead of more dire needs in our community--like a really decent public transportation system that the whole community would be able to use, or even county-wide bike paths. That is something I would really support.

itsanotherday1
41763
Points
itsanotherday1 06/13/12 - 09:08 am
3
1
I agree Fiat, WHY is it

I agree Fiat, WHY is it necessary? I travel Berkmans on occasion, and I don't see traffic volume as an issue. I fail to see how this benefits AGNC either.

OpenCurtain
10049
Points
OpenCurtain 06/13/12 - 09:17 am
3
0
On initial view 1 way makes sense.

When the Augusta National purchased a large number of homes along the water tower side of their property (Berckman Rd.), many of us figured they would quietly push to have the road changed and/or partially closed.

It would reduce traffic along I-20 /Washington, which actually hampers some businesses during The Masters. The result would then allow a 2nd I-20 exit for the Masters at River Watch and to serve as a 2nd feeder route. This would make the preplanned use of the recent widening and straightening of Alexander from Washington Rd. to River Watch Parkway.

The National puts Augusta on the international map every year. It is nothing to be taken lightly. Bluntly put it owns and drives the Augusta Area Economy and Community about 10 weeks a year. The Augusta National is truly a Great Thing for Augusta.

But the voters also understand that a fair equalization of county resources needs to be reached, one that addresses the whole county and the South Side all year round.

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 06/13/12 - 09:14 am
6
0
A little honesty?

If the only benefit is to serve our Masters for one week out of the year, just say that and let the public vote it up or down.

Of course, no one will be that honest about it. Some prefer to operate out of public view and without public scrutiny. Speaking to the public honestly is below them.

Little Lamb
45190
Points
Little Lamb 06/13/12 - 09:20 am
2
0
Schedule

From the story:

Using referendum funding, the project is scheduled to begin in 2020, with completion by 2022.

Excuse me, but I seem to recall it took almost two years to widen Alexander Drive from Washington Rd. to Riverwatch. This project seems to be much more extensive than the Alexander widening. Somehow, I don't think it will go as quickly as Steve Cassell says.

COTCOID3353
7
Points
COTCOID3353 06/13/12 - 09:34 am
5
0
Berckman Road Realignment Project

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that this project has very little, if anything, to do with public safety and traffic flow ( for 51 weeks out of the year) and everything to do with moving Berckmans road to accomodate the wishes of the Augusta National. That being said, this project is so vastly expensive for the benefit recieved by the citizens who will be paying for it as to make it unacceptable. Berckman Road already has more than it's share of speeders. If they remove the only traffic light between Washington Rd and Wheeler Rd (At Ingleside Dr.) and replace it with a Round About, it will become a mile long racetrack with fatalities. It's a beautiful plan but not practical for Augusta at this time. I'll be voting against it in July.

allhans
23516
Points
allhans 06/13/12 - 01:16 pm
2
0
Washington Road is not being

.
I have a close friend who lives between Surrey Center and Ingleside, he is very unsettled about what it might mean for them.

David Parker
7923
Points
David Parker 06/13/12 - 10:13 am
1
0
i'm going to take a stab and

i'm going to take a stab and say the road project is happening b/c traffic and congestion in the near future warrants it. Yes, Berkman to Washington road isn't too bad currently. But with Costco getting its footing, that thorough-fare is going to swell up more and more as time goes on. I figure, if I'm Berkman and need to get to Alexander, it's a herky-jerky left, then right. In traffic it adds ten minutes of driving time if you hit the traffic lights a little late. The realignment should make it seemless to get from Wheeler road to RW Pkwy.

It makes so much sense it's scary. just mho.

obkad
222
Points
obkad 06/13/12 - 10:24 am
6
0
Think again

The Augusta National wants the largest possible route which is behind the Publix shopping center. Has anyone ever considered the National wanting the additional property to build an additional 18 holes of golf?? They are already buying property on Vineland for possible use in expanding the par 3, why not provide an additional 18 holes for the Champions tour. Go look at the layout of the parking,, you can almost see the proposed layout of what may someday be the "new" course. But where would parking go.. Across the street in National Hills shopping center and the neighborhood. Think about it...They've already bought up everything on Washington road across from the course. The new entrance just completed could be expanded to have concourse to the new and old course.. They are setting it up...

omnomnom
3964
Points
omnomnom 06/13/12 - 10:49 am
0
2
well, widening the road could

well, widening the road could open up a new avenue for bus lines Augusta is in dire need of crosstown routes

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 06/13/12 - 11:27 am
2
3
If they can drop 200 million

If they can drop 200 million on Laney Walker area I dont see a problem with dropping 20 million on Berkmans Road. I can understand why they would want to do it and surprised it took this long.

GaRealist
22
Points
GaRealist 06/13/12 - 11:30 am
5
1
I am surprised Augustan's can't see it...

I lived in National Hills on Persimmon Rd a couple of years ago before moving to Atlanta. I read the Aug. Chronicle every morning and can see in this article what Augusta residents can't. If Berkman's Rd is moved to intersect with Alexander Rd starting back near Stanley Dr., The ANGC can then fence off all of their property all the way down to the new intersection at Alexander Dr. They would then have the nice hedge all the way down to the intersection and all the way back to the apartments on Berkman's Rd at the top of the hill above Rae's Creek. This would add loads of acreage of secure area under the ANGC control 24/7/365. Once done, the ANGC would not have to request permits to change things behind their new hedged off area. Take out an Augusta Road map and take a look at the large wedge of space that would be fenced off just as it is now all the way down the current Berkman's Rd corridor. All at the residents of Augusta expense. They own the land but you guys pay the bill to expand their security.

countyman
19689
Points
countyman 06/13/12 - 12:09 pm
1
1
Highsociety... Do you mean

Highsociety... Did you mean $37.5 instead of $100 million?? Plus remember the money is coming from local visitors staying at our hotels...

Electrolux still has plans to expand in the future... The National will end up doing something with the Big Tree shopping center and Greens on Washington complex... The Village at Riverwatch is 115 acres, and will bring retail/restaurants not presently in Augusta...

This plan will definitely help out many Augustans in the near future.. I disagree if people don't think the Berckman/Washington rd intersection doesn't get backed up...

The economy slowed down the Four Points by Sheraton, 7k shopping center replacing the gas station near Zaxbys, and the other upscale hotel near Four Points along Washington rd... Kroger is building two 4k sq. ft. buildings and access road on the former Sonic/car wash properties... Additional traffic is coming to Washington rd in the future..

Insider Information
4009
Points
Insider Information 06/13/12 - 12:06 pm
2
0
Fuzzy math

If the cost of construction is $20 million today, what will it be in 8 years when the project begins?

The cost of construction fluctuates like the stock market or the price of gas, but the price is certain to go up.

HighSociety
1840
Points
HighSociety 06/13/12 - 12:17 pm
2
0
I know just throwing a big

I know just throwing a big number out there seeing how there is still nothing to show for it. Well I say nothing but there are lots of vacant new homes.

countyman
19689
Points
countyman 06/13/12 - 12:30 pm
2
1
If the majority of people

If the majority of people vote yes on July 31st then it won't take eight years to start construction... The DOT wouldn't have to worry about spreading a limited amount of funds between Windsor Spring, Wrightsboro, Berckman, Augusta Transit, etc...

The Laney Walker/Bethlehem projects has won numerous national & state awards... If Harvard recognizes the development then you must be doing something right.. The development added over $3 million to the RC tax base, and produced several jobs last year... Young adults, empty nesters, gay people, etc usually want to live in the urban core and not isolated in suburban cul de sacs..

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