City mulls uses

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The future of the 80-year-old Fifth Street Bridge over the Savannah River might be one without vehicular traffic.

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Augusta officials are weighing their options on the future of the city's Fifth Street Bridge.  Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Jackie Ricciardi/Staff
Augusta officials are weighing their options on the future of the city's Fifth Street Bridge.

Although officials in both Augusta and North Augusta say no decisions have been made, they confirm discussions are under way that could close the bridge to cars and limit its traffic to pedestrians or bicycles.

Augusta City Administrator Fred Russell said there are several considerations, including the cost of improving the bridge's safety.

The bridge suffers from widespread "corrosion and section loss of the steel superstructure," broken sidewalks and failed deck joints, according to a 2006 Georgia state inspection, which rated the 1,202-foot-long structure in poor condition.

Another consideration is usage. Crews have set up traffic counters to measure daily use. If the bridge, which is listed on the National Historic Registry, were closed, vehicle traffic would probably shift to the nearby U.S Highway 1/Gordon Highway Bridge, Mr. Russell said.

One option is to leave the bridge open to pedestrians and bike riders. Mr. Russell said there would be the possibility of adding a bike path, benches and greenery to make it accommodating to the public.

"The cosmetic stuff that we would have to do to make it pedestrian friendly would cost a whole lot less than what it would take to maintain" the bridge so it would stay safe enough for cars, he said.

But he said it is premature to forecast the bridge's future.

That future is looking less promising because a recent South Carolina Department of Transportation proposal to improve the adjacent U.S. Highway 1-River North Drive interchange doesn't include a vehicular link to the Fifth Street Bridge, according to Todd Salvagin, the principal of SRS Traffic Transportation and Parking Consultants of West Columbia, S.C.

During a recent North Augusta City Council meeting, Mr. Salvagin said the South Carolina DOT anticipated the bridge becoming a pedestrian corridor.

Preliminary design has been completed and right-of-way has been purchased for the U.S. 1 interchange project, officials have said.

The bridge's future rests mostly with Augusta, officials say.

"The ultimate usage of the Fifth Street Bridge is a function of the city of Augusta," said G.M. "Skip" Grkovic, North Augusta's director of Economic and Community Development.

Reach Adam Folk at (706) 823-3339 or

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AugustaVoter 02/14/08 - 07:34 am
A pedestrian corridor to

A pedestrian corridor to what? Why would I walk across that bridge when there isn't anything on either side I would want to walk to in the first place? I understand that it is an 80 year old bridge but what historical significance does it actually have? Augusta has destroyed everything else in this town that has actual history so why not that too? Compare Savannah and its embrace to history to Augusta. Do you see millions a year flocking to Augusta for its historical value? No. Just the golf tourney. This city is 272 years old but do you see it anywhere? Might as well kill an 80 year old bridge too.

jrbfromga 02/14/08 - 08:31 am
And who is responsible for

And who is responsible for letting the bridge deteriorate to the point it has the widespread "corrosion and section loss of the steel superstructure"? I guess the philosophy is just to ignore something and then pronounce it prohibitively expensive to fix. The New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam is another example. Then, the ultimate paradox is that it is most likely the same people responsible for the deterioration who then pronounce the public asset "too far gone".

Little Lamb
Little Lamb 02/14/08 - 08:50 am
Steel is selling for very

Steel is selling for very high prices now. The best thing would be to remove the bridge and pay for it with the scrap steel.

3M3T1B 02/14/08 - 10:09 am
I have to agree with Augusta

I have to agree with Augusta Voter. Augusta has destroyed most of its historic structures (remember, at one time Sacred Heart was on the list) and continues to look for reasons to tear down the small number remaining or letting them rot and decay. The original municipal building, the central rail station, the old post office. The list goes on and on.

sjgraci 02/14/08 - 11:53 am
Cutting taxes has its

Cutting taxes has its cosequences.

MartinezWest Augusta
MartinezWest Augusta 02/14/08 - 01:24 pm
Good job augusta alot of

Good job augusta alot of people will use the bridge for pedestrians purposes.

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