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Growth, lack of infrastructure causing traffic headaches for Grovetown residents

Mayor hopes for help from new sales tax

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 EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier version of this story misidentified Grovetown Mayor George James.

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Traffic jams of two to three hours are common on Robinson Avenue as people head to Fort Gordon, and Grovetown residents worry about what more growth will mean.  KYLE MARTIN/STAFF
KYLE MARTIN/STAFF
Traffic jams of two to three hours are common on Robinson Avenue as people head to Fort Gordon, and Grovetown residents worry about what more growth will mean.

A home on Grovetown’s Rob­inson Avenue seemed a perfect opportunity when Michelle Davidson’s husband was stationed at Fort Gordon five years ago.

The two-lane road leading south out of town ends at Fort Gordon’s Gate 2 – an ideal commute of less than a mile.

But the Davidsons weren’t aware of the volume of traffic that flows and often comes to a standstill right at their driveway until after they moved in.

“The Realtor was smart. She didn’t show us the house during peak (traffic) hours,” Davidson said over the growl of log trucks.

The Davidsons join a chorus of complaints about the commuter traffic that clogs Robinson Avenue for two to three hours in the morning and in the afternoon as soldiers and civilians travel between Fort Gordon and home. Those who live in the neighborhoods that line Rob­inson Avenue characterize rush hour as a “headache.”

The concern of residents dealing with daily traffic logjams is that the continued growth of Grovetown, much of it influenced by growth at Fort Gordon, has not been matched by a corresponding improvement in infrastructure.

A traffic study by the Geor­gia Department of Trans­portation estimates that, on average, 12,690 vehicles traveled Robinson Avenue between Hollingsworth Drive and Martha’s Way every day in 2011 – a 51 percent increase over five years before.

“I’m wondering where this traffic is going,” said Carla Clemons, a teacher who has lived in the Summerfield neighborhood for 16 years. On the mornings that traffic backs up more than normal, she texts her supervisors pictures of the gridlock as an excuse for being late.

Census numbers show the population in the small town on Columbia County’s eastern border has grown 84 percent in the past 10 years, from 6,089 in 2000 to 11,216 in 2010. In the past five years, at least four new subdivisions have been completed, representing more than 450 homes, and there’s much more to come.

Robinson Avenue is lined with bright signs advertising projects under development. On the sliver of Robin­son Avenue that juts into Richmond County, the McCoy’s Creek subdivision and its 59 lots are under construction. Richmond County has also approved 13 acres at the southwest corner of the Gordon Highway intersection for a shopping center called Grovetown Centers.

“We’ve had tremendous growth and we’re in the area of Columbia County where growth is coming,” Grovetown Mayor George James said.

The city has anticipated the growth where possible, including installing a new 750,000-gallon water tank and improving water lines along Robinson Avenue. But improving Robinson Ave­nue, which is also State Road 223, takes approval and coordination with the Geor­gia Department of Trans­portation.

James is banking on the July 31 transportation special purpose local option sales tax referendum for help with Robinson Avenue. If approved by the 13-county region that includes Richmond and Columbia counties, it would add a one-cent sales tax for transportation projects. By state estimates, Grove­town would receive just more than $147,000 in 2013 if approved.

James said it would still be two to three years before any changes would happen on Robinson Avenue, but it wouldn’t come in the form of widening; the cost of buying the properties abutting the road is prohibitive. Instead, James anticipates more turn lanes and traffic-calming measures.

“We’re taking it seriously and putting things in place,” he said.

The private sector’s rush to build homes around Fort Gordon is in response to the Army post’s continued growth. The National Security Agency’s new facility opened in March and is expected to produce 4,000 jobs. Other cyber and communications missions
are expected to arrive in the coming years, adding more jobs and families to the area.

“In the future, Fort Gor­don anticipates an increase in traffic on Robinson Ave­nue due to planned expansion of several units on Fort Gordon,” Lt. Col. Hollis Bush, the director of Fort Gordon’s emergency services, said in an e-mailed response to questions.

With that in mind, several measures have been implemented by military officials to improve the flow of traffic through Gate 2. These include working with the Trans­por­tation Department to extend the time of the traffic light at Gate 2 and opening Gate 3 farther down Gordon Highway to noncommercial civilians. An automated entry access control system is being installed at all gates.

While the changes might improve the flow of traffic, it won’t take away the volume. Davidson installed an extra deadbolt at the top of her door when she moved to Robinson Avenue to keep her children from slipping outside. She’s resigned to the fact that traffic is only going to get busier.

“It makes me a nervous wreck,” she said.

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countyman
21682
Points
countyman 07/07/12 - 08:47 pm
0
7
I should work for the

I should work for the Chronicle, because they're consistenly late with new projects.. I've already discussed the growth(specifically the 13 acre center back in February) along Gordon Hwy btw Jimmie Dyess & Grovetown(Willhaven, Haynes Station, Mccoys Creek, Circle K, 13 acre commercial center, 11 acre commercial property at 677 Robinson Ave)several times before...

I'm glad to see the smaller areas(Grovetown, Hephzibah, Edgefield, Thomson, Waynesboro, etc) in the metro area growing... All of the little cities have their advantages, and Grovetown being located closer to West Augusta/I-20 is a big one.. While the new Steak & Shake under construction isn't located in the city limits.... The business should have an Grovetown address either way...

I know Columbia County is majority white & conservative(similar to the Augusta Chronicle), but come on guys with these types of articles... I've never seen any project approved by the Columbia County planning commission used as an example for growth in Richmond County... I have no problem bringing up Mccoys Creek, because it streches into Grovetown & Southwest Augusta... I don't remember the 13 acre shopping center at 3011 Gordon Hwy streching into CC... I hope the paper mentions the current growth in West Augusta when they finally decide to print the article on the Aldi coming to Martinez.. The old Golden Corral on Bobby Jones/I-520 is located right next to West Augusta(Sams, Bealls, Home Depot, Rooms 2 Go).. This paper plays right into the county vs county debates people always fall into... I don't understand why the Chronicle doesn't realize developers only see 'metro Augusta'...

madgerman
236
Points
madgerman 07/07/12 - 09:48 pm
0
0
Perhaps a story about the
Unpublished

Perhaps a story about the "Automated entry access control system" would be in order. From the looks of the system it appears a driver 1. pulls up to a ID card reader and after fumbling around getting everyones ID cards out and processed thru the reader the red light turns green and the barricade raises to allow a single vehicle thru. Now I could be wrong but I would estimate at least 3 minutes per car for that to happen which equates to about 180 cars per lane or 360 cars per hour. Talk about a traffic jam, they have funded about the worst nightmare imagineable, and all in the holy name of Homeland Security. I wonder when they are going to secure the hundreds of miles of fences, or do they think terrorists are stupid and would only drive on post to commit an act of terrorism? Who is in charge?

seenitB4
98535
Points
seenitB4 07/08/12 - 05:41 am
1
1
Haha

We both should get paid by AC for working here...:)

I want to know how stewart feels about this article....he deals with this traffic everyday.

dstewartsr
20393
Points
dstewartsr 07/08/12 - 06:50 am
4
1
And it can only get worse...

as the wise elders of Grovetown have no plan other than build, build, build. Like the county's commisars, all the council can see are tax revenues. If anyone thinks this is bad, wait until the dimwads approve the T-SPLOST, (historically, the voters of CC, for all their education, still approve anything as long as they're told, "It's only a few dollars on a $100,000 property) and the city begins to implement its 'commercdial corridor.'

The problem at Robinson Avenue and Gordon Highway is two-fold; first it is the artery not only for Grovetown, but also for Harlem and those living along Wrightsboro Road almost to McDuffie County. The second is the Gate 2, and to a lesser extent Gate 3, entrances to the post- as long as there are 100% checks on entering the post --even with automation-- this brings traffic to a virtual standstill in all directions. And those checks I fear will go on as long as the war on terror.

Stevie Wonder coulda seen this coming.

cheapster505
581
Points
cheapster505 07/08/12 - 06:51 am
1
0
growth

and not a bank among them? BoA ?

cheapster505
581
Points
cheapster505 07/08/12 - 07:00 am
3
0
t splosh

every good tax starts out as aPENNY per that won't ever STOP but will increase to2/3 remember we are still taxed for the spanish American war thru the telephone tax so everything comes to an end EXCEPT taxes they just go on on on gas taxes were the answer to roads and inferstructure (inferior) if we can just tax Gasoline at a Penny if we can just tax gasoline at a % we can pay for everything
we will give them the 1penny but they will go for a raise in the gas tax coming soon after they get that "Penny"

zowies
7
Points
zowies 07/08/12 - 07:14 am
2
0
Columbia County

Traffic and over population which creates more traffic in addition to many cookie cutter properties was a primary reason for purchasing in Richmond County. If I want DC or New York traffic, I could easily move in one of those areas. Driving anywhere near Washington Rd, Belair Rd, or Robinson Avenue, along with many other areas in CC causes much anxiety for me.

noway
201
Points
noway 07/08/12 - 07:57 am
4
0
All growth isn't good!

Everyone is always wanting more, more, and more! Growth, growth, growth so government can make money, but it's always at the expense of the residents. It does less good than it does good. It's also government's fault for not planning correctly. Government gets too greedy and wants more and more. Catching up is to difficult. It's a shame. And now, Grovetown wants the people to pay an extra tax, which of course, they will want to pay because the situation is so dire. The developers should have to pay for this expansion. They are making big money and then walking away and leaving a mess for the people. But, government also benefits and then wants the people to pay. Poor planning.

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 07/08/12 - 10:43 am
2
1
A Grovetown Bypass is Needed

A highway is desperately needed that bypasses Grovetown. It's a booming city and feeding all that traffic through the city is ridiculous.

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 07/08/12 - 10:46 am
3
0
Countyman says, "I hope the

Countyman says, "I hope the paper mentions the current growth in West Augusta when they finally decide to print the article on the Aldi coming to Martinez."

What's the article going to say? It's a relatively small store that's going to be in the old Golden Corral.

You guessed it...Frank Stallone
83
Points
You guessed it...Frank Stallone 07/08/12 - 04:26 pm
5
0
Countyman...

You're complex against Columbia County is just as bad as the "Conservative, white" Augusta Chronicle's so called prejudice against Richmond County. You clearly have some type of inferiority complex against Columbia County, when actually it just consistently shows your disguised awareness of the deficiencies in the city/county you demand recognition for on a daily basis. The truth is though, and will likely be in the near future, is that there are reasons why people overwhelmingly choose Columbia County: decent public schools, safety, more affordable nice housing, better infrastructure, cleaner streets, and just higher quality of life overall. Without CC, the employment opportunities in RC (Ft. Gordon, medical district) wouldn't attract and keep as many people in the area as those industries have. I can throw a rock from my front porch in CC and hit the homes of workers in those industries in every direction. All of them moved there because they didn't want to live in Richmond County. So you shouldn't get mad at the Augusta Chronicle for reporting the exponential growth of Columbia County. The blame lies in the political paralysis in the RC government and outdated mindset of a large portion of the population there.

Patty-P
3520
Points
Patty-P 07/08/12 - 05:05 pm
2
0
You are on point Frank

You are on point Frank Stallone.

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 07/08/12 - 07:40 pm
0
2
I lived in both Richmond and

There's not alot of industry in CC compared to Richmond... Suburban counties will always have alot people working in the main county....

Do you honestly believe the retail, companies, jobs in the Medical District-Fort Gordon, etc are here due to the demographics of Harlem/Grovetown compared to West Augusta, Summerville, Forest Hills, etc.... The median income of CC may be higher, but the population is only 124k people... Compared to the over 200k in RC, and 160k in Aiken county...

I don't want to even get into another long debate about each county... We all know the truth is there are better schools, safer areas, nicer areas, etc in Richmond compared to Columbia.. I lived in both Richmond and Columbia counties... I never bash Columbia County daily on the Chronicle like several people who live in CC bash Richmond constanly... What did I say that would be considered negative about CC in my original comment??

Who is overwhelmingly choosing CC in the year 2012?? The majority of the Mccoys Creek subdivision and the entire 13 acre shopping center is located in Richmond County... So how am I exactly getting mad at the growth in CC?? I think we all can agree Columbia County was the new area back in 2000-2005, but it's the middle of 2012...

Patty-P
3520
Points
Patty-P 07/08/12 - 08:01 pm
2
0
Countyman, I have yet to

Countyman, I have yet to figure you out. Richmond County is NOT safer than Columbia County. You can't pull the wool over everyone's eyes.

countyman
21682
Points
countyman 07/08/12 - 08:23 pm
0
1
I find it hilarious Riverman

I find it hilarious Riverman is brushing off the Aldi coming to Martinez.. Since he lives in Martinez then should know the area is kinda struggling in terms of new commercial... Mikes Furniture, Ryans, and two Food Lions have all closed recently... What will happen to the shopping center on Washington rd once K-Mart closes down later this year?? In the year 2012 the truth is that Evans and now Grovetown to an lesser extent being considered the newer area of CC is hurting Martinez, but not West Augusta, Summerville, CBD, Olde Town, Forest Hills, etc.. All you have to do is look around, and see the ongoing growth in each area... The older shopping centers in West Augusta are going the opposite of the one's in Martinez.. The Augusta West Plaza opened Hibachi Grill, Let's Jump, WJBF/WAGT, and somebody purchased the former Regal Village theatre.....

CC is starting to feel the effect of not having white flight compared to the early 2000's... My comments about CC are never degrading, but simply reality... This happens all over the united states, and people flock back to the urban core... The recent/under construction housing in the CBD is on another level this year... The Cookout(brand new restaurant buildig) on Walton Way near Harrisburg, new businesses in Sumerville/Midtown on Monte Sano/Kings Way/Central Ave, the second neighborhood Walmart in the state of GA/other businesses are signs of urban core growing...

Patty P... I never said Richmond County was overall safer, richer, or had better schools... The main county in every single metro across the US always include the 'city'... The place were you can find housing projects, schools in low income areas, etc... The fact still remains certain areas/schools in Richmond are richer/safer compared to areas in Columbia...

I'm sure it's an coincidence the metro is close to 600k, but we only have a total of three Targets... Why are they located in West Augusta, Evans, and Aiken??

Patty-P
3520
Points
Patty-P 07/08/12 - 08:51 pm
1
0
I would find it interesting

I would find it interesting to know what makes those certain areas safer compared to areas in Columbia County. Do the cops patrol and enforce the law in those areas more than others. Because I've seen them pass right by crime in other areas. Even experienced it myself. People constantly complain about drug houses in Harrisburg and they remain. So what makes those areas better than the others in Richmond County and better than areas in Columbia County? Don't try to sugar-coat the FACTS either.

Patty-P
3520
Points
Patty-P 07/08/12 - 08:55 pm
0
0
Countyman says....

"Patty P... I never said Richmond County was overall safer, richer, or had better schools..."
YET
"I don't want to even get into another long debate about each county... We all know the truth is there are better schools, safer areas, nicer areas, etc in Richmond compared to Columbia.."

Riverman1
94246
Points
Riverman1 07/08/12 - 09:41 pm
0
0
Countyman

I'm not cutting Aldi down. It is a small store that will occupy the old Golden Coral. You said the Chronicle was holding back an article on it. I asked what it would say.

On the other subject, Columbia County is growing so fast, it has overbuilt in some places and that causes growing pains leaving others empty. Richmond County has lots of industry and jobs. I'm proud of them and hope things work out.

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