Originally created 09/16/99

Project to bring trucks



A Tennessee-based company is building a 10-acre truck stop at the intersection of River Watch Parkway and Interstate 20.

The company, Knoxville-based Pilot Travel Centers, said the development will employ more than 85 people when it opens in mid-December.

The $5 million project will occupy more than one-quarter of a 47-acre parcel the company plans to develop into hotels, restaurants and other businesses catering to interstate travelers.

"It's an expensive piece of property because of the development costs involved in it, but we think it will be a good location," said David Sparks, Pilot's project manager.

Knoxville-based Holrob Investments is marketing the remainder of the property.

City traffic planners approved the truck stop project but said the company will have to improve traffic accessibility before additional commercial development.

That's because the property's main entrance, Gun Club Road, cuts into River Watch Parkway just 400 feet west of the Claussen Road intersection -- too close to put another traffic light, officials say.

"Wherever you create a driveway cut, you create the potential for accidents," city traffic engineer Jim Huffstetler said. "What you're doing is creating another intersection."

Negotiation is imminent: Pilot has a legal right to access its property, but transportation officials have a duty to prevent traffic hazards and congestion.

What likely will happen, Mr. Huffstetler said, is that developers would create a new traffic-lighted intersection west of Gun Club Road but east of Quarry Road -- the entrance to the Martin-Marietta Aggregates facility.

Pilot's development, which occupies land formerly owned by Gary Concrete Products Co., will feature a 3,700-square-foot convenience store and a 3,000-square-foot Wendy's restaurant under one roof.

Its massive parking lot will hold 75 cars and 85 trucks, and its two dozen fueling stations will be capable of filling both types of vehicles.

The center's general manager will come from within the company, but all co-managers and staff will be hired from the Augusta area, Mr. Sparks said.

"There's good opportunities for management positions," he said.

Pilot said it will advertise the positions closer to the project completion date.

Pilot Travel Centers has 122 sites in 36 states, including six in Georgia. It plans to open 15 to 20 centers each year during the next three years, Mr. Sparks said.

The River Watch Parkway development will be the company's only truck stop in Augusta, he said.

The project is under supervision by Missouri-based Munlake Contractors.

REACH

Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486.