Workers mobilized equipment Tuesday to begin a long-awaited expansion of the Augusta Canal trail system that will include new bridges over the tailrace areas behind Sibley and King mills.
The $1.2 million project, which will cause intermittent lane closures along River Watch Parkway and its ramps near downtown Augusta, will create about 1,800 feet of concrete trail behind the two historic textile mills.
Massana Construction, of Tyrone, Ga., was chosen last June to manage the project, said canal authority spokeswoman Rebecca Rogers.
The trail spur, covering close to a mile, was initially designed to allow cyclists to veer off the canal towpath near the aqueduct at Rae’s Creek, cross under River Watch Parkway and emerge downtown near Waters Edge subdivision.
Because of some unresolved engineering obstacles, the trail will end short of Waters Edge for now and include a widened turnaround area, Rogers said.
The two bridges to be installed will be very different, she said. A prefabricated Steadfast bridge will be hoisted over the Sibley Mill tailrace, while a suspension bridge will cross the wider King Mill tailrace.
The project was planned, funded and bid in 2005 but never started because the canal authority was unable to secure easements to cross the tailrace at Sibley Mill. The access issue and other impediments have since been resolved.
The new trail segment is expected to be mostly complete by the end of July.