AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– The reception to the renderings released last month has been lukewarm to say the least. Tuesday night the Department of Transportation held an open house at the Georgia Welcome Center to hear what you would like to see.
“There’s been a lot of accidents over the years, especially at night because it’s too narrow. And for me, that’s one of the scariest bridges I’ve ever been on,” Sintonio Hobbs, of Augusta, said.
An estimated 70,000 people drive over the Savannah River Bridge each day as they make their way down I-20, and in a decade, G-DOT estimates 90,000 will use the route daily.
Tuesday night, community members got a chance to voice opinions about the 75 million dollar project that will widen I-20 to three lanes in both directions separated by a concrete barrier, with paved shoulders.
“We think it’s really going to help with safety. If you blow out a tire or if you do have an accident, now we’ve got that paved shoulder. Our law enforcement and team of operators can go ahead and clear you to the paved shoulder so we don’t have to shut the entire bridge down when there’s an accident like we do now,” Kyle Collins, GDOT’s Communications Specialist, said.
The big question: How will travelers get around the work while it’s underway? Collins said G-Dot has it figured out, and detours won’t be needed.
“Two lanes will be moving East and West bound the entire time. We’re going to start building the new bridge and widening I-20 within the existing median, so you’re not going to have any worries about single lanes or having to detour around,” Collins explained.
Some people have complained that the bridge design is not “unique.” Tim Matthews, GDOT’s Design Build Project Manager, explained the facts behind the proposed design.
“We have a fixed budget. We’re working with South Carolina DOT. They’re participating in the funding portion of this project. At this point, the budget doesn’t allow for the extent of aesthetics that I think folks may be looking for,” Matthews said.
“I think that’s a great thing, being that South Carolina will be paying a part of it. And some of the other monies, instead of making it more glamorous, it can be used to better our roads,” Lana Thomas, of South Carolina, said.
“It’ll get the job done, operations will be better. We’re looking for safety and efficiency over flash,” Collins concluded.
Work on the bridge is planned to begin in Spring of 2019. GDOT estimates the entire project will last three to four years.
If you didn’t get a chance to attend the meeting and want to submit input, you can do so online: http://www.dot.ga.gov/PS/Public/PublicOutreach or mail in your comment to Mr. Eric Duff, Georgia Department of Transportation, 600 West Peachtree Street NW, 16th Floor, Atlanta, Georgia 30308.