Jerry and Sally Thacker purchased their home at the corner of Berckmans Road and Heath Drive in 1991, planning to stay in the same spot for their lifetime. Now they’re talking with lawyers about what can be done to save their front yard.
The newly redesigned Berckmans Road runs through the Thackers’ rose garden, past the home’s tennis court and over the property’s water well.
“We’re just totally ruined,” Sally Thacker said. “Who wants traffic coming that close to your front door?”
About 100 people attended a public meeting Monday night about the road redesign. The northern section of Berckmans Road – which currently borders Augusta National Golf Club – will be redirected to align with Alexander Drive less than a half-mile from its current output on Washington Road at National Hills shopping center.
From the Thackers’ front yard, the road turns west, cutting through Augusta National’s parking lots. The design concept was narrowed down from five proposals presented at a June meeting.
Some at Monday’s meeting were pleased that the latest proposal – which city traffic engineer Steve Cassell said is the preferred alignment – involves two traffic lanes with a center turn lane instead of four lanes.
Stanley Drive homeowner Herman Thacker, Jerry’s brother, said that previous proposals took out too much of his front yard but that he’s mostly unaffected by the latest design. Still, he doesn’t think taxpayer money needs to be spent on the project.
“I don’t see why they can’t widen Berckmans Road where it is,” he said.
Cassell said further design work will look more closely at homeowners’ concerns, such as wells and septic tanks.
“A lot of their issues can be addressed when we negotiate the right of ways,” he said.
A use for the current section of Berckmans Road has not been determined, Cassell said. Power and water lines will not be relocated.
A traffic signal at Berckmans and Washington roads will be moved to River Ridge Drive, the main entrance to a neighborhood. Cassell said homeowners have long requested a signal. A back entrance to National Hills shopping center connects to River Ridge Drive.
The design also provides a short access road from Washington Road to the parking lots of Jays Music and Sound Super Center.
The project received funding by the July 31 voter approval of the 1 percent regional sales tax for transportation projects. The tax allocates $16.7 million for widening Berckmans Road and $3.7 million more to replace a bridge on the road over Rae’s Creek.
Cassell said the project could begin sooner than its current 2020 start date.