Bridge trusses used in Cold War projects at Savannah River Site might be recycled into bicycle and pedestrian pathways along the Augusta Canal.
"It's something we're looking into," said Dayton Sherrouse, the Canal Authority's executive director. "Basically they'd be free, but moving them is the obstacle."
The trusses would be used as bridges spanning spillways where water from the canal used to power King and Sibley mills is emptied back into the Savannah River upstream from Augusta.
The bridges are part of a New Bartram Trail that will add bicycle and pedestrian trails to existing pathways along the canal towpath.
The Canal Authority received federal grants totaling $1 million for the project.
One design being evaluated calls for building new suspension bridges over the wide openings at King and Sibley mills and at Hawks Gully.
"A cable suspension bridge is aesthetically beautiful, but has slight movement," he said. "But the trusses at SRS are an option too."
The steel trusses were built for bridgework and eventually used at the nuclear materials site as roof braces, Mr. Sherrouse said.
Initial estimates for moving the materials upriver are around $78,000, meaning it might be cheaper to build new bridges, he said. "Right now we're exploring the costs and the transportation issues."
The trails project, being designed by Toole Engineers, also includes new paths on the canal's inland side linking Olmstead Park with downtown Augusta.
The objective is to create scenic trails from the canal headgates in Columbia County all the way to Riverwalk Augusta, while minimizing the potentially dangerous mix of pedestrian traffic with motor vehicles.
The new trails also include a new bridge at Lake Olmstead enabling visitors to cross the canal to the towpath adjacent to the Savannah River.
Augusta received $1 million for the project through the federal Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA), which provides money to enhance transportation corridors that encourage non-motorized traffic.
Those funds must be matched with $250,000 in local funds.