Planners, architects seeking input from community on future of 15th Street corridor

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News 12 This Morning / Friday, Nov. 16, 2012

AUGUSTA, Ga. -- It is a project that has been talked about for over 30 years and this week you have a chance to chime in. It's being touted as "a week of visioning" for the future of 15th Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd and Deans Bridge Road.

Right now the road is two lanes, but a DOT project will soon widen the road through TSPLOST. That will begin in 2016. It will make it four lanes, adding bike lanes and sidewalks that the area really needs, especially for people like Robert Ballard. He rides on the street down 15th in his wheelchair everyday.

"Everybody tells me get out of the street, get out of the street, but I gotta go where I gotta go," Ballard said.

The uneven sidewalks -- and in most places, lack of sidewalks -- make every trip he makes harder.

"It's not difficult, but it's dangerous," he said. "A lot of the parts don't have sidewalks, so I have to roll in the street."

With the plans to improve the 15th Street corridor, the road will be widened and fixed up.

"It really addresses a variety of issues," said John Paul Stout, sustainable development manager. "[It] makes it safer for people walking, makes it more desirable for people to move back in to the area or businesses to locate here, and it makes it much much safer for drivers as well."

The plan is beautification and safety for the corridor from 15th Street to MLK to Deans Bridge Road.

"[It's] a major gateway from south Augusta to downtown," Stout said. "This part of our area is vital for strengthening the entire city as a whole."

City planners are hosting what they're calling a "week of visioning" where anybody can come and voice their opinions.

"Everybody needs to come if they own property they need to come and look into it because it's going to help the whole area down here tremendously," said Emory Rabitsch, who owns property along MLK and attended the open house at the Augusta Mini Theater.

At the open house engineers, architects and planners worked on all aspects of the project.

"Our goal is to run a totally transparent project that everyone can take part in," Stout said.

They say it's important for people to see the project now, for them to get input from the public and find out what's best for the people in the area.

"Everyone's opinion is valid in this process," Stout said.

They will have a presentation of the week's results at T.W. Josey High School on Saturday at 10 a.m.

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