The roads, they are a-changin'.
And with millions of dollars already authorized for area roads during the next three to five years, motorists are sure to notice.
As a precursor to new road construction, city transportation officials will present drafts of upcoming projects at two public meetings this week in Augusta and Aiken.
The Transportation Improvement Program map and several amendments to the Augusta Regional Transportation Study Area's long-range plan will be displayed from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday at two locations: in Room 202 of south Richmond County's University Hospital Medical Center and in Aiken County Council chambers.
ARTS covers the urbanized portions of Richmond, Columbia and Aiken counties, while TIP includes all surface and transit projects scheduled to receive federal transportation funding during the next three years in Georgia and five years in South Carolina. The drafts are made available for review on an annual basis.
"This gives people an idea if something is really about to happen in their area," said Mary Huffstetler, transportation planner for the Metropolitan Planning Organization, a division of the Augusta-Richmond County Planning Commission.
Many projects are planned along some of Augusta's most heavily traveled thoroughfares.
Widening Fury's Ferry Road to four lanes and adding turn lanes
Widening Wrightsboro Road from Augusta West Parkway to Belair Road to four lanes with a median
Adding a raised median on Washington Road from Flowing Wells Road to Halali Farm Road
Widening and extending Old Petersburg Road from Barton Chapel Road to Towne Centre Drive
Building multi-use facilities at Lake Olmstead and adding a history walk at Augusta State University
Each project has its own time line based on available funding and area need.
"We have to look at what's driving the economy, and we have to ask, is that road's traffic acceptable to the people in that area?" Ms. Huffstetler said.
The public information meetings coincide with a 30-day comment period on the drafts. An additional 10-day comment period will follow the meetings.
"If there is opposition and people say, `Why are we spending money here?' we can go back to the table and say, OK, we've had citizens suggest this way. Let's talk about that," Ms. Huffstetler said.
Recommendations then will be presented at a joint meeting of two ARTS committees - the citizens' advisory committee and the technical coordinating committee - on May 24, and committee members will vote on whether or not to approve the drafts.
"We encourage public involvement so people don't get caught off guard," Ms. Huffstetler said. "When the stakes are up in your front yard, then it's probably too late."
Reach Heidi Coryell at (706) 823-3215.
For additional information, contact the Metropolitan Planning Organization at 821-1796, or stop by its offices at 525 Telfair St., behind the municipal building in downtown Augusta.
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