Originally created 01/26/99

Work frustrates business owners



Construction on Walton Way continues, but for some business owners the road improvements are leading to one big mess.

"I'm not really worried about when they finish it, but that the job will never be done. Three times they've come back and each time they dig an even bigger hole," said Eddie Dunn, who owns Video Inn at the Academy Plaza retail center on Walton Way between Russell Street and Baker Avenue.

The latest work, which began Monday, will reduce the roadway from four lanes to two for up to three weeks.

"I'd rather they block the road for a whole month than come back every two weeks," Mr. Dunn said. "It's just like this nightmare that never stops."

Roadwork to replace storm sewers and sanitary pipes began last summer and continued through the fall.

The latest construction was unforeseen until last fall, when the building contractor noticed the poor quality of the soil under the road. The swamplike soil caused roads to ripple -- creating a "wavy pavement" effect.

Augusta's public works officials had the soil tested. Officials had to come up with a solution and find money for the project, city traffic engineer Jim Huffstetler said.

To ease stress on motorists who routinely travel Walton Way, the public works department suggested alternate routes for travel to and from downtown Augusta.

"It's best to either go down Central Avenue or Calhoun Expressway to stay away from that mess," said Dennis Ellis, traffic engineering technician.

The mess is especially hard on business owners like Mr. Dunn.

"It's really going to make customers afraid to come in here because it's so difficult to get in and out," he said.

Walton Way Animal Clinic lost business Monday because of the work.

"We've had a couple of people call and cancel appointments because they don't want to have to come down into the traffic," receptionist Ashley Brocato said.

In the long run, the construction will be better for Walton Way travelers, Mr. Huffstetler said.

The new road bed will consist of new soil and a geo-synthetic fiber to offset the dips in pavement.

Margaret Weston can be reached at (706) 823-3217 or mweston@augustachronicle.com.