Originally created 06/12/04

Road will clog transit station



A planned extension of St. Sebastian Way in downtown Augusta is designed to help motorists avoid train tracks at 15th Street. But there's just one problem: an entryway to Augusta's main public transit transfer station happens to be in the way.

"It won't even be possible (for buses to use the entrance) because they will take a part of my entranceway to build the bridge," said Heyward Johnson, Augusta's public transit director.

The plan is to extend St. Sebastian Way from where it currently ends, at Walton Way, to Reynolds Street, including a bridge that would lead into Broad Street. It is set for right-of-way acquisitions in October and a let date of November 2005, said Travis Davidson, of Augusta's Public Works Department.

The extension will pass so close to the Broad Street transfer station between 14th and 15th streets that it will take part of the station's entry point for buses, causing the entrance to close and parking to be relocated to the other side of the station, Mr. Johnson said.

Buses would then have to enter and exit at the same point, and riders exiting buses would have to walk in front of that driveway to board another bus - something Mr. Johnson said they currently don't have to do.

"That's an accident waiting to happen," Mr. Johnson said.

The design has officials concerned about safety and wondering whether a new station site is warranted.

Mr. Johnson said he has talked to the Georgia Department of Transportation about how the station should be relocated, but "the DOT wants us to stay, even over my safety concerns," he said.

At a Thursday work session for needed projects in the city's next special purpose sales tax, Mayor Bob Young said the city should begin working now to include money in the next sales tax for a new transfer station site to avoid safety problems.

"I think we need to be listening to our transit director," he said.

Mr. Johnson said the station was built in 1991 for $800,000 but didn't have an estimate on what a relocation would cost.

Reach Preston Sparks at (706) 828-3904 or preston.sparks@augustachronicle.com.