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14 Richmond County bridges on list for transportation sales tax funds

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Repairing or replacing 14 Richmond County bridges could be funded by a special 1-cent sales tax for transportation projects in the region, if the vote passes Tuesday.

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Sections of the Fifth Street Bridge have been lost, and the pin connections are corroding.  CHRIS THELEN/STAFF
Sections of the Fifth Street Bridge have been lost, and the pin connections are corroding.

The bridge projects are estimated to cost more than $24 million but would ultimately save time, money and possibly lives, transportation experts say.

The Georgia Department of Trans­portation, which inspects bridges on a two-year cycle to comply with a federal mandate, issued its most recent inspection report for Augusta-Richmond County in August 2010. Bridge conditions are rated on a scale from “failed” to “excellent.”

Of the bridge projects proposed for funding by the transportation sales tax, six were identified as needing specially posted signs for weight limits. Structural deficiencies pose a danger for heavy truck loads.

Most had significant signs of deterioration such as failed joints, erosion, cracks and exposed steel. The state report recommended replacing the bridges.

Don Grantham, a former Augusta Commission member who is now on the Transportation Department’s board, said repairing or replacing the bridges can help avoid emergencies in the future. He noted that two bridges near Millen, Ga., were recently closed, causing traffic diversions.

“It’s not to the point that they are ready to close the bridges off. But I think several years down, they could close those bridges,” he said.

The Fifth Street bridge spanning the Savannah River was rated “poor.” Sections of the steel superstructure have been lost and the pin connections are corroding. Also, several joints have failed, bolts need replacing, beams are cracked and chunks of material are falling away, according to the report.

The cost estimate for repairing and restoring the bridge is $9.1 million – the most expensive of the 14 proposed bridge projects.

Five of the bridges were in “fair” condition, one mark higher than the “poor” category, according to the 2010 report. Most of those were deteriorating from age and had corrosion, failed joints, exposed steel and erosion.

According to a 2011 report by Transportation for America, a group that advocates investment in transportation infrastructure, Augusta-Richmond County has 89 deficient bridges, or 13.4 percent of its bridges. The area had the 13th highest percentage of deficient bridges for metropolitan areas with a population between a half million and 1 million.

The report used data from the Federal Highway Admin­is­tration’s 2010 national bridge inventory, which details the condition of bridges. One in nine U.S. bridges was rated “structurally deficient,” the report says.

Grantham said the bridges on Richmond County’s sales tax project list were most likely chosen because they were in the worst shape. If the vote passes, the sales tax would provide funding instead of relying on state and federal money, he said.


Fifth Street Bridge over the Savannah River ($9.1 million)

Scotts Way over Rae’s Creek ($1.36 million)

Berckmans Road over Rae’s Creek ($3.7 million)

Broad Street over the Augusta Canal ($1.32 million)

Seventh Street over the Augusta Canal ($748,856)

Fifteenth Street over the Augusta Canal ($1.5 million)

Eleventh Street over the Augusta Canal ($579,642)

Walton Way over Hawks Gully ($548,856)

Broad Street over Hawks Gully ($713,562)

Highland Avenue over the CSX Railroad ($1.6 million)

Windsor Spring Road over Spirit Creek and the Norfolk Southern Railroad (the cost of two bridge replacements and widenings are included in the projected $43 million for two phases of construction on Windsor Spring Road)

Old Waynesboro Road over Spirit Creek ($3.14 million)

Milledgeville Road over Rocky Creek ($83,842)

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jack2006 07/24/12 - 09:30 pm
No Way!

You mean to tell me that we have to pay for the transportation projects again that they refused to take the Stimulus Funds to do it with? The Stimulus money is our money tax dollars. Stop refusing to bring money back home to our communities. Now, you want us to pay again for transportation projects that the funds will sit in some bank account for years and still we will see the same transportation projects not completed in the future.

How crazy are they to think that we really are? We are being double taxed without any end results with grass growing in the middle of the highways used as and represented as the yellow line.

Get the Stimulus Funds for Transportation FIRST before you start thinking about taxing us on this.

The question that needs to be ask is do they know how to work the system to get it done?

Do they know how Georgia Department of Transportation works?

Do they know how to get the projects approve through GDOT?

Just wondering.

seenitB4 07/25/12 - 03:57 am
Brace yourself augusta...The

Brace yourself augusta...The Atlanta area will pass this itty bitty tax foryee.....
We sho don't want any of you good folks falling into that ole cold Savannah do we...
Millen Ga ...we love you can thank us later...:)

jmo 07/25/12 - 04:29 am
Just Vote No

Just Vote NO on TSPLOST.

Riverman1 07/25/12 - 05:03 am
Don Grantham around tax money

Don Grantham around tax money is like my Uncle Shakey used to be around the beer cooler at the picnic.

nocnoc 07/25/12 - 05:26 am
What happen to $1.4+ billion?

The GA-DOT ALREADY collects over $1,400,000,000.00 a year already, just in GAS fuel only.

Bridge repair and roadway repair is easily covered in that amount. Any person managing the budget fairly and honestly would or should have allocated funds for this basic every year normal requirement. Unless someone was disproportionately funneling money into the direction of larger vote producing cities like Atlanta.

There is no need to go into the already uncovered wasteful spending and outright lies that voters have been told by these over spending politicians, who now want more to waste.

As I said in earlier posts, 1.4 Billions in GAS revenues not even counting other fuels. I smell a rotting pork barrel and it is time to clean it up once and for all.

Please VOTE NO

seenitB4 07/25/12 - 05:33 am
pop stats

Population in the csra
about 709,433

Population in the Atlanta region
Atlanta Population:

• 5,475,213 (2009 est.) in the 28-county Atlanta Metropolitan Statistical Area, designated by the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce
• 4,124,300 in the 10-county Atlanta region
• 540,922 (2009 est.) in the City of Atlanta
Source: Atlanta Regional Commission, 2011; Census Bureau 2009

augusta citizen
augusta citizen 07/25/12 - 05:50 am

"Repairing or replacing 14 Richmond County bridges COULD be funded by a special 1-cent sales tax..." Does this mean could or would? It says could. Regardless, VOTE NO!

nocnoc 07/25/12 - 06:26 am
Added comments on pricing

1st and most importantly
Remember NO Politician is obligated apply their private 25% discretionary fund towards any repair, if this pork bill passes.

"Grantham said the bridges on Richmond County’s sales tax project list were most likely chosen because they were in the worst shape.

(What? no one is sure why this list was put together? Sounds like a list something slapped together to entice local voter support.)

"If the vote passes, the sales tax would provide funding instead of relying on state and federal money, he said."

Excuse me, we aren't we voting on a STATE TAX, is he saying we don't want it to use in 1 breath and suggesting we need it in the next? Besides ALL tax dollars are our tax dollars. We pay $0.47 for each gallon in road taxes.

Compare the price estimates between projects, it alone should say something is amiss with the figures.

Again Please Vote No.

Rewrite the DOT Pork bill to have individual counties develop and vote on their own DOT project needs after they clean house. As it is written TSPLOST benefits only larger cities, and allows they to push this down our throats for their unplanned and wasteful spending.

What about Augusta's Death Road?
Well that money was funded according to GA-DOT (as stated in 2011) and will be applied over the next few years. This is called planning while people die.

It is beginning to look like parts of the GA. DOT, local politicians and parts of the GA Merit System can best be compared to a cesspool> The wrong stuff has floated to the top and the drain field needs cleaning.

bdouglas 07/25/12 - 07:15 am
Here's a thought... demolish

Here's a thought... demolish the 5th street bridge! $9.1 million is about $8 million too much to be paying for a new platform to shoot fireworks from a couple times a year. Tear it down and rework the entrance to the marina and be done with it. Then again, the Riverkeeper would probably be down there with a stethoscope measuring the heart rates of the fish during demolition, ready to pounce as soon as something about it doesn't tickle her fancy.

OpenCurtain 11/07/12 - 04:17 am
looks and functions

Took a while but I finally skimmed through TSPLOST.

scgator 07/25/12 - 07:55 am

IT HAS GOTTEN TO THE POINT THAT WE SHOULD "ALWAYS" VOTE NO ON yes always allows them to waste and miss align tax money; there is ALWAYS a behind the scenes loophole that they simply forgot to mention..................this is easy to control.......just vote no on EVERYTHING !!!!!

dichotomy 07/25/12 - 08:46 am
And they still have not

And they still have not provided an accounting of where they spent all of the GAS TAX money, oh say, since a couple of years before the Atlanta Olympics.

The problem is NOT that we have not given them enough money to repair our local roads and bridges. The problem is that we have been robbed. We have been robbed by the Atlanta metro area. We have been robbed by fat, bloated contracts being passed out as political rewards and payoffs. We have been robbed by the GA DOT mismanaging projects in such a way to fail to qualify for matching federal dollars. They have robbed us so badly that they have reached the point where they cannot increase the amount of the robbery so they now have the unmitigated gall to ask us to vountarily give them more money to do what we have already paid them to do.

If you go back and read the last four state audits of the GA DOT since 2008 what SHOULD be happening is some people should be fired or put in jail instead of our politicians covering up for them and asking us for more money.

Vote NO on TSPLOST and tell the politicians to clean up the DOT and it's financial management and contracting procedure. They have wasted, mismanaged, and misallocated YOUR GAS TAX dollars and now they want another FREE POT OF MONEY taken from your family.

Vote NO on TSPLOST and ALL future xSPLOST. It's time to tell the pigs oinking at the trough that there is NO MORE SLOP. Remember, you've got federal income tax increases coming in 2013, Obamacare taxes coming in 2014, and the increased prices of healthcare insurance or Obamacare TAX "penalties" to pay. We cannot afford to pay for the GA DOT's mismanagement of our GAS TAX dollars by giving them ANOTHER TAX. Instead of CLEANING OUT OUR WALLET, tell the politicians to CLEAN UP THE GA DOT.

Riverman1 07/25/12 - 09:34 am
How was part of the bridge

How was part of the bridge lost? Did a piece of something fall off? It's that hard to put a piece back on using existing highway funds?

nocnoc 07/25/12 - 10:41 am
Fifth Street Bridge over the Savannah River ($9.1 million)

The list is misleadingly, as it infers to the 5th street bridge, like it is GA's (Augusta's) sole responsibility to fix this bridge.

Last time I checked GA connected to South Carolina.

Are we being told that South Carolina isn't kicking in any money?
This could be. They closed their part of the old unsafe section over 15 years ago and routed around it with a less costly exit ramp solution.

Aside from a convenient way for a few SC riverfront home owners, what purpose does the bridge serve, that Gordon Hwy bridge cannot more than handle?

Shut the bridge down,
Lease air rights to the levee property to a establish river front commercial developer 25 years at a time. Note I said LEASE.

Do so with the requirement to develop an mid to lower upper scale Riverfront business area with a mix of restaurants and shops.

Give the River watcher Political Action Grp. 1/2 of 1 percent of the lease fees to promote River related, non court related issues and stream line the operation. Allow the political Action Grp. basic input into the adopted concept, but not any final say.

Every body is happy, the right palms eventually get greased, 25 years of political kick backs at a time and no new citizen level taxes.

"Shovel Ready" Jobs are finally created.

I expect to see a new TSPLOST NEWS story every few days pointing how badly we need TSPLOST, as the vote grows closer.

My question remains the same; What the heck has GA-DOT and local DOT's been doing with the $$billion$$ in money each year?

BTW: If the bridge is in such bad shape, someone in DOT needs to put up barricades before some one gets hurt. Or is this just another of over the top tactic to promote fear and garner votes?

fwbeerguy 07/25/12 - 10:41 am
Enough is enough

This is an abomanation. Waste our tax money then have the people vote in another tax increase and threaten to punish them if they don't. This should be illegal. Fix the roads and bridges with the tax money already being collected from gasoline, other SPLOST money you have milked out of the citizens already. Ehough is enough. DOT has plenty of money to fix the roads and bridges. Stop WAISTING money. DO NOT GIVE THE DOT ANY MORE OF YOUR MONEY. VOTE NO ON THIS TAX.

dstewartsr 07/25/12 - 03:57 pm

I was having conversation with several people today about the TSPLOST, and all three were going to (or have) voted for the tax. Some nuggets I heard when I mentioned the 25% unaccountable slush fund, one (remember, this is a VOTER) person said, "Well, they need some flexibility in case something comes up more expensive than they planned." When I brought up the $1.4 billion dollars the state pulls in every year just on gasoline tax, I was told flatly, "Yeah,? Im sure it's not that much; and some of that goes to just collecting the taxes." When I pointed out that our roads aren't being funded, and these repairs aren't done because the money is diverted to Atlanta, the first person said, "Of course! Atlanta's bigger!"

I have a bad feeling about this election.

itsanotherday1 07/25/12 - 04:59 pm
Don't tear it down

That costs money too. Just shut 5th street bridge down to motor traffic and keep it open for pedestrians and bicycles. It hasn't served a big purpose since I've been in Augusta (1971).

eagle 07/25/12 - 05:36 pm
While I live on the SC side

While I live on the SC side of the river and the new tax won't affect me directly, I certainly wouldn't vote for it. All of the states collect taxes on your gas/diesel that are supposed to be used for road/bridge repair (keyword..supposed). Most (if not all) of the states put that money into other funds and the roads/bridges never get repaired. Thus, a new tax must be implemented to make up for the ill-spent monies already collected. I'm not telling you anything that you already don't know, so good luck in shooting down this new tax.

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