Originally created 08/11/05

Parham residents relish new road



Randall Gross says you'd be hard-pressed to find residents on Parham Road not thrilled with $1.1 million worth of improvements on the rural south Augusta road.

A year ago drivers had to wind around a narrow dirt bend and then navigate over a blind at-grade railroad crossing to get to Gordon Highway. Now, residents can zip across a new bridge that lies feet above the railroad tracks, avoiding the hassle of the crossing altogether.

"They should have done this a lot sooner," said Mr. Gross, who has lived on the Columbia County section of Parham Road for a decade. "People around here definitely enjoy it."

Crews from Eatonton, Ga.-based Gregory Bridge Co. have spent the past year paving the part of Parham Road in Richmond County - the Columbia County section was paved two years ago - and realigning the road leading to the bridge.

Department of Transportation Area Engineer Scott Stephens said work began in September and took the expected 10 months.

"The only thing left is a few punch list items that will only take a few days once they get going," he said Wednesday.

Tommie Newman, who has lived in the same house on Parham Road since 1987, said the project has brought ease for her and her daughters, who use the affected section of road to get to Gordon Highway 90 percent of the time.

"It's certainly improved the look of the street," Ms. Newman said.

"And now you don't have to get around that crooked curve, which wasn't wide enough anyway. If you look at the before and after, it's an interesting contrast," she said.

She also expects that school bus drivers taking pupils to Harlem High School, Grovetown Middle and elementary schools will find they have an easier time traveling down Parham.

The one thing that has not improved is speeding motorists, residents say. If anything, more and faster cars are driving through the normally quiet neighborhood, Ms. Newman said.

"Robinson Avenue can be very busy, so they're using us a cut-through for Fort Gordon (or Augusta State Medical Prison)," she said. "I sit here watching them just race by."

Mr. Gross said his guess is that a number of drivers consciously avoided Parham when it was just a dirt road. With the improvements, people are eager to try it, he said.

Reach Dena Levitz at (706) 823-3339 or dena.levitz@augustachronicle.com.

Working on the railroad

Other area projects recently finished or planned at railroad crossings:

- A CSX crossing on Powell Road off Gordon Highway in Augusta received gates, lights and bells costing about $120,000 about two months ago.

- Eight months ago, crews added gates, lights and bells to the CSX crossing on McCauley Street in Augusta.

- At the end of the year, workers will begin the $1 million project to raise the road on U.S. Highway 278 in Warrenton, Ga., so that it's even with the Norfolk-Southern railroad bridge there. For years, vehicles have gotten stuck under the 13-foot, 4-inch overpass.

- Long-range transportation plans for Washington County include a project, with an unknown cost, to build an overpass for the railroad on Georgia Highway 15 in Sandersville.

Source: Georgia Department of Transportation



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