Originally created 05/13/05

New span will link Augusta Canal bike trails



A final link in a network of bicycle trails between the Augusta Canal headgates and Riverwalk Augusta will include a pair of bridges spanning spillways behind King and Sibley mills along the Savannah River.

"This would be the last connector," Canal Authority Executive Director Dayton Sherrouse said. "It would take about a year to finish."

The canal authority agreed Thursday to expand a design contract with W.R. Toole engineers, which is designing the spans, to accommodate a slight change in one of the bridges.

The original concept called for a pair of cable-suspension bridges, but the authority later opted to use a preconstructed span over the Sibley tailrace, the channel that runs from the mills to the river. The change increased the design contract from $40,000 to $54,582, Mr. Sherrouse said.

The entire trail project, which links an existing trail that begins at the canal bridge at Lake Olmstead with downtown Augusta, will cost about $1 million and is being financed through federal transportation grants and matching funds derived from special purpose local option sales tax dollars.

The two spillways enable water from the canal that flows through hydropower turbines at the two textile mills to flow back into the nearby Savannah River.

"Right now this trail just stops north of the Sibley tailrace," Mr. Sherrouse said. Although the final link is relatively short, it is expensive because of the bridges and a long ramp that will be required where the trail meanders along the levee close to downtown.

The trail network has been completed in segments and ultimately will enable cyclists to travel from Columbia County - which has established bicycle trails along Evans to Locks Road - to almost any area of downtown Augusta.

Canal Authority member Fran Stewart said the growing number of trails will eventually require a trail map to better direct patrons.

"We're already working on getting one put together," she said.

Reach Rob Pavey at 868-1222, ext. 119, or rob.pavey@augustachronicle.com.