News 12 First at Five and 6 o'clock, November 28, 2007
AUGUSTA, Ga.---Let's say you've been to Outback and want to go home to Columbia County from Washington Road at I-20. Starting Friday, November 30, you'll have to take the long way around...and that'll be the case for many months.
The exit from Washington Road to westbound I-20 will be completely closed, so instead of taking the ramp to the right off Washington Road just past the I-20 bridge, you'll keep going and turn right on Stevens Creek. Stevens Creek will turn into Claussen Road. You'll keep going until you get to Riverwatch Parkway. Then you'll get on Riverwatch and use the on-ramp there to get onto I-20.
This closure will allow construction workers to widen roads and bridges. They call it a tough but necessary decision.
The westbound I-20 ramp off Washington Road will be closed until mid-2009. GDOT officials say they do have a plan for Masters in April; the ramp will be open during evening hours.
Drivers are speaking out about the ramp closing. "Bad idea D.O.T.," says Andrew Potter.
He lives in Atlanta but travels through Augusta for work every week...now he's learning the I-20 westbound ramp will be closed starting Friday. "Oh no, that'll be ridiculous...I think ludicrous in fact."
Georgia D.O.T. officials announced Wednesday that a detour would take drivers up Steven's Creek road to Riverwatch to get on westbound I-20. "That's already an inconvenience...to re-direct traffic like that...you talkin about a nightmare," says Potter.
"I don't think it'll be a big mess. I don't think it'll be a big change. It'll take folks a little further around, but I think it'll be much better for them, and it just has to be done to finish the construction," says Mike Keene with the Georgia Department of Transportation.
"The problem...a stop sign at the top of the ramp. About 8,000 people travel the ramp per day. The D.O.T. says it's too dangerous, and that a detour is necessary."
"I agree and it's just a reality of life that we want Augusta to grow. We want to become a better infrastructure, and these things are gonna require sacrifice, and if our troops can be sacrificing we can put up with a little bit of inconvenience here in Augusta," says Robin Petry.
But, like Andrew, not everybody is so understanding. "I'm shocked!"
"I gotta find some new ways to get customers to come in cause that's gonna cut a lot into our business," says Greg Carswell.
"I get on and off here every week when I come see my parents and it will add a significant amount of time to my journey," says Jenny Webster. "Time is very valuable. Time is my biggest gift to my parents."