Construction set to begin on River Watch Parkway extension

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News 12 at 11 o'clock / Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Traffic jam

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- It's a project we've been hearing about for years on a road many of you travel every day.

Now thanks to TSPLOST, the extension of River Watch Parkway is set to begin.

The plan is to widen the road to four lanes, extending River Watch Parkway to Washington Road in Evans.

But some are sacrificing more than others to make this happen.

"We were told we would lose half of the front yard," said Karen Bogle, who lives on Old Petersburg Road.

She and her family have lived there for three years.

"We had actually heard about it when we first bought the house, and we didn't think any concern of it because people that I know said that they had been talking about it before 2000," she said.

The expansion and widening of River Watch Parkway has been in the works for years.

"This project has been designed for several years now sitting on a shelf fully designed, just had no funding to build it so when TSPLOST was passed and that funding was made available, it was a great relief," said Matt Schlachter, director of Columbia County's construction and maintenance.

On Tuesday night, dozens showed up to learn more about the design of the project from the Georgia DOT and about the detours it will create during the two-and-a-half-year construction process.

"It follows existing roads for part of the way -- the last 25 percent is a new path over to Washington Road," Schlachter said.

River Watch will become four lanes with a median from Baston Road all the way to Washington Road. A long curve will replace the stoplight at Old Petersburg and Old Evans. It will then continue over the railroad tracks and cut down a new path through Jamaica Court to end up at Town Center Boulevard.

"It's a big project," Schlachter said. "It's going from a two-lane road to a big four-lane road with a median in it, so a lot of disturbed ground, a lot of traffic issues. Definitely be prepared to wait [and] find alternate routes if you can."

But he says the end result will be worth it.

"It's gonna alleviate traffic congestion, gonna move people through our county faster, allow them access to downtown Evans area to the downtown Augusta area," he explained.

Better access, but also for cause for concern for the Bogles and their neighbors.

"The bad side would be that the road is already busy and turning it into a four lane and cutting out half your yard, you have to be more careful about kids and animals," Bogle said.

Tuesday's meeting was to get feedback on a detour. They will be adding a bridge over the railroad tracks, so for about 30 days, they will close down part of Columbia Industrial Boulevard.

The detour includes Blue Ridge Drive, Evans to Locks Road and North Belair Road. They are asking for feedback on the detour and on some sound walls to help with the noise along the road.

Feedback can be given until May 24. Click here for maps and additional information on the extension.

They'll begin construction first of next year and are hoping to have it completed by 2016.

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