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River Watch Parkway construction could help smooth commute

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The morning commute is about to get easier for Shahona Cobb and thousands of other drivers on River Watch Parkway.

A major construction project adding turn lanes at the parkway’s Interstate 20 interchange and improving the timing of traffic signals will shave a few minutes off Cobb’s travel time from Stevens Creek Road to downtown Augusta, she said.

“If there’s a lot of traffic, you have to wait several lights,” she said. “It’s a long light, too.”

Using a $2.5 million allocation from the 1 percent regional sales tax for transportation projects, changes are planned to help alleviate traffic congestion largely caused by tractor-trailers. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2015 and will take about a year to complete.

A public meeting was held Wednesday night to hear feedback on the design, which includes resurfacing River Watch Parkway from Riverwest Drive to River Shoals Parkway.

The plan calls for adding a left-turn lane for the I-20 eastbound on-ramp, widening the eastbound and westbound ramps and adding a right-turn lane on Claussen Road for traffic entering River Watch Parkway.

Trucks turning onto I-20 ramps from River Watch Parkway pile up into the through-travel lane, impeding traffic flow.

“There’s no other lane to go around the trucks,” Cobb said.

Barry Bull, of Evans, said the trucks try to merge into the turn lane too late because the interstate ramps are poorly marked. The truck cabs sometimes make it into the turn lane, but the trailers block outer lanes where vehicles are trying to travel through a green light, he said.

“I’m surprised there haven’t been some nasty wrecks there,” Bull said. “I think what they’re doing with construction is good.”


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