While local construction crews continue to tear up and lay down pavement on Richmond County's roads, state officials continue to make progress on a statewide, long-term road project that eventually will link Augusta to Savannah.
The Savannah River Parkway and the Fall Line Freeway are priorities among projects in the $2.4 billion Governor's Road Improvement Program (GRIP) that began in 1989. The Savannah River Parkway, on which construction has begun in south Richmond County, will give motorists a straight shot to Savannah. The Fall Line Freeway will connect Augusta to Interstate 75 to link the city to the central part of the state.
Parts of the $191 million Savannah River Parkway project have been completed, including the portion out of Augusta and bypasses around the cities the highway will run through, such as Sylvania, Statesboro, Millen and Waynesboro.
The entire 2,400-mile statewide project, made up of 10 corridors and costing $2.4 billion during more than 20 years, is funded by the Legislature each year. About 55 percent of the total project is completed. The Savannah River Parkway is nearly half done.
"What is the most time-consuming issue is right-of-way acquisition," said Walker Scott Jr., director of preconstruction for the state Department of Transportation. By 1999, Mr. Scott said the state plans to have completed environmental studies and the right-of-way acquisition.
The project is primarily geared toward creating better economic opportunities for Georgia cities. Mr. Scott said the corridors will provide an estimated $300 million boost in Georgia's economy and allow room for growth.