Originally created 05/01/01

Road panel seeks input on plans



Looking at the plans for re-routing and widening North Belair Road, Marty Koger wondered why the road wouldn not connect directly to Dogwood Way at the entrance of Northwood subdivision.

Instead, the new portion of the road would tie into the existing road just south of the Northwood entrance.

The reason, according to Columbia County Preconstruction Engineer Ronnie Hutto, is that the present proposed alignment affects few people.

The realigned road would create a four-lane thoroughfare from northwest Columbia County to Fort Gordon's Gate 1.

"But it makes it a whole lot more inconvenient for these people," Mr. Koger said, pointing to the Northwood subdivision on the map on the wall of the Evans Government Center Auditorium.

Mr. Koger was one of a handful of people who attended Monday night's public information meeting for the Augusta Regional Transportation Study area's 2002-2006 Transportation Improvement Program.

ARTS officials want public input from people such as Mr. Koger to help them determine how to dole out money for various transportation projects within the more populated parts of Aiken, Columbia and Richmond counties.

One of the more important projects on the ARTS radar screen is the widening of Furys Ferry Road from River Watch Parkway to Evans to Locks Road, said Paul DeCamp, the planning director for the Richmond County Planning Commission.

"You've got a lot of residential growth we are trying to catch up with out in that corridor," he said.

For Richmond County, there's the reconstruction of the Interstate 20-Bobby Jones interchange. Officials hope the reconstruction will alleviate some accidents, similar to the one that occurred last week when a transfer truck overturned on one of the off ramps.

"It seems like that is almost a weekly occurrence now," Mr. DeCamp said.

The ARTS planning process works in the following manner:

At the beginning of each year, South Carolina and Georgia transportation officials tell ARTS leaders how much money is available for transportation. ARTS officials then dole out the dollars.

ARTS officials revise their plan through a series of public meetings. After the meetings, ARTS leaders take the public comments back to the various study boards. The next meeting will be at the Aiken County Council Building on Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m.

"We can shift and move within the constraints of how much money we know is going to be available," Mr. DeCamp said.

Slated projects

This is a sampling of some of the projects included in the Augusta Regional Transportation Study area's 2002-2006 Transportation Improvement Program.

Richmond County:

Project: Widening of Davis Road from Washington Road to Pleasant Home Road

Estimated cost: $6.6 million

Time frame: Construction is scheduled to begin between July 1, 2003, and June 30, 2004.

Project: Rebuilding of interchanges at Interstate 20 and Bobby Jones Expressway

Estimated cost: $56 million

Time frame: Construction is scheduled to begin between July 1, 2004, and June 30, 2005.

Columbia County

Project: Widening of Old Petersburg Road (River Watch Parkway) from Baston Road to Washington Road

Estimated cost: $15.8 million

Time frame: Construction is scheduled to begin between July 1, 2004, and June 30, 2005.

Project: Widening of Furys Ferry Road from River Watch Parkway to Evans to Locks Road

Estimated cost: $13 million

Time frame: Construction is scheduled to begin between July 1 and June 30, 2002.

Aiken County

Project: Widening of Knox Avenue in North Augusta

Estimated cost: $1.6 million

Time frame: Construction is scheduled to begin between July 1 and June 30, 2002.

Project: Widening and extension of South Carolina 118, also known as the Aiken By-Pass, around the northern side of Aiken

Estimated cost: $5.6 million

Time frame: Construction is scheduled to begin between July 1 and June 30, 2003.

Source: Augusta Regional Transportation Study

Reach Jason B. Smith at (706) 868-1222, Ext. 115.