News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, March 23, 2011
AUGUSTA, Ga. -- Richmond County's newest plan to handle Masters Week traffic includes detours, more parking and traffic cameras, engineers announced Wednesday.
At least 80,000 cars are expected on city streets during each day of the tournament. Signs directing golf traffic are already up in some parts of town.
But some living near the course are down about a plan to make busy Berckmans Road one-way in the late afternoon.
News 12 drove the route, which will take patrons away from Washington Road and south down Berckmans from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The left lane will keep drivers heading straight to Wheeler Road and Walton Way. The right lane turns into Ingleside Drive.
During an early meeting on the plan, neighbors who live off of Berckmans said they were getting the run around.
"I asked him why the people in the neighborhood didn't get a say on this before it was all voted on and he told me I needed to talk this gentlemen in the yellow shirt from the city of Augusta," Vickie Sandala said on March 9.
"Well we're just trying to make things better," says city traffic engineer Steve Cassell. He points to at least three major changes that will be made this year.
"The tournament gets bigger and bigger every year. We are identifying different issues every time as people try to probe our weaknesses," he said.
But construction downtown is also causing problems. Crews are still working on 15th street, so traffic will have to come to the intersection at Greene Street and take the flyover ramp to Riverwatch Parkway.
Parking is also changing. There won't be any more spaces at Gate 10. Instead, an additional thousand spaces have been added off Berckmans Road.
Engineers are also counting on technology this year.
"We'll have a map and it shows the green and it shows how traffic is flowing around the area," Cassell said. Red marks means traffic is slowed.
A new city website will host 13 different cameras that drivers can check with the click of a mouse.
"You can go through each one and see what's going on at each intersection," he says.
The city is still testing www.augustatraffic.com. It is expected to be ready to launch as early as Monday.
As for people who live in the neighborhood close to the course, they'll be given passes to hang on their rear-view mirrors.
Click the "Photos" tab and "View as Slideshow" to see full-size images of traffic plans.