Riverwatch expansion set to finally begin

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News 12 First at Five / Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2014

Riverwatch expansion groundbreaking (WRDW-TV)

COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW) -- The scenery hasn't changed much over the years for Robert Russ.

"You know, just took part of my yard," Russ said.

And he notices it more and more everyday.

"A lot of my neighbors, they lost their houses to the project," he said.

That happened back in 2005 when the project was supposed to begin. Almost a decade later, the empty lots are still there waiting for construction to start.

"It's frustrating, everybody's had frustration with it in this area," he said.

It's the 34 million dollar expansion of Riverwatch Parkway.

"We're widening the existing two lane road, to two lanes in each direction," said George Brewer who's the project manager.

Its from Baston Road going down Old Petersburg Road onto Old Evans road, finally hitting Washington Road.

"20,000 or 30,000 people would travel on it every day," said Commissioner Ron Cross with Columbia County.

That means more of a headache for Russ.

"I'll have like 10 feet maybe from the house," Russ said.

The projected expansion has the road taking up most of Russ's yard. He's gotten thousands of dollars from the DOT in exchange for his turf.

"There's not a lot I can do about it, and the DOT didn't want to acquire this property so," Russ said.

He's left sitting back, waiting for what could be a long three years on Old Evans Road.

"And it's going to be worse when they start construction," Russ said. "Either way, it's not going to be good for my property."

But for both Richmond and Columbia County, it'll mean easier access and less traffic gridlock.

"You know if they had the road going straight through to Washington Road, so the traffic could keep moving, you know that would be a positive for the community," he said.

It's possibly a positive for him, knowing he'll be in the heart of growth once River watch is finally complete.

"If I have to stay here, I'll stay here and put up with it, you do what you have to do," Russ said.

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