The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce strongly supports the projects currently proposed to widen Interstate 20, but we feel that there are additional issues regarding I-20 that should be dealt with to improve the safety of motorists and the appearance of the community.
Current plans provide for the widening of I-20 from I-520 to River Watch Parkway before returning to four lanes. This leaves one of the more dangerous sections of freeway in our area as is, continuing to create a hazard to drivers.
The bridge over the Savannah River and the roadway leading up to it have been sites of repeated severe accidents. The Georgia Department of Transportation should work with the state of South Carolina to make sure that I-20 is six lanes through the entire metro Augusta area.
Traffic volumes are too heavy, between local traffic and long-distance travel, for I-20 to remain four lanes. This also applies to I-20 from Belair Road to Highway 17 in Thomson. Current projects to reconstruct this section should include the expansion of the roadway to six lanes.
Lighting is a second issue that should be addressed in plans for the Augusta area. Currently most local freeways do not have overhead lighting to illuminate the area.
Projects as recent as the widening of I-520 failed to include lighting. Given the vehicle volumes and urban nature of these roadways, lighting should be an automatic part of the designs.
Currently lighting is proposed for the intersection of I-20 and I-520. This should be expanded to include the entire project area. The Chamber understands this requires a commitment from the local county to maintain lighting, and we stand ready to assist in those discussions.
The Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce looks forward to working with the Georgia Department of Transportation and local governments to continue to improve the system of roadways that serve our community. We should strive to make sure our roads are safe, appealing and help further the growth of Augusta.
Edward J. Tarver, Augusta
(Editor's note: The writer is the chairman of the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce.)