The I-20 bridge: The long and winding road to completion

Nearly four years ago, construction begin on the Interstate 20 bridge over the Savannah River at the state line.
Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 2:44 PM EST|Updated: Mar. 7, 2023 at 4:19 PM EST
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Nearly four years ago, construction begin on the Interstate 20 bridge over the Savannah River at the state line.

The $73 million project is set to replace four lanes with six.

“You know, so we’ve been really in heavy construction for the last three years,” said Kyle Collins, spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Some traveling the road daily say it can’t be finished soon enough.

“I’m trying to get over, you know because the lane is ending. But nobody wants to allow you over. It’s like full wide at Daytona. It’s not safe,” said Jobe Sullivan.

I-20 is a road thousands travel daily. Some avoid it, but for Sullivan and her active family, it’s a road they can’t avoid.

“Multiple times on weekends, many of our tournaments are on the Georgia side of the river. So we’re coming to Riverside Park. We’re traveling that bridge because it’s the most convenient way to get across into Augusta,” she said.

She says if something doesn’t change soon, she fears for the safety of others.

“Especially with my son in the car, it causes some anxiety, just, you know, wanting to make sure that we’re safe and you know, it’s not necessarily me or what I’m doing that I have to worry about. It’s others,” she said.

Collins said: “It’s a major undertaking, about a roughly two-plus-mile area there from the Georgia Welcome Center going all the way to Exit 1 at West Martintown Road across the line with our friends in South Carolina.”

Completion was set for this year, but now it’s allegedly been bumped to 2024.

“From that initial schedule, we are slightly behind,” Collins said. “The contractor has done a great job dealing with, you know, challenges that any businesses have dealt with the last few years with material availability, workforce, fighting through some weather, but they’ve been good with us trying to stick to some of the milestones.”

The big scope of plans is to replace all the old bridges over the Augusta Canal and Savannah River and also widen I-20, add an extra lane, and add extra-wide shoulders on the inside and outside, which will be 12 feet, he said.

“So you have a lot more capacity, a lot more safety coming through that area to get accidents clear if they do occur,” he said.

But hanging over the whole project is Masters week in about a month when the whole region sees an increase in traffic.

“The kind of the new push hoping to get implemented prior to Masters week is finalizing what will be final alignment on the westbound side,” Collins said.

But it should all be great when it’s done, Collins said.

“Everybody knows it’s a major undertaking,” he said. “These bridges have reached the end of their service life. Older designs are typically a 50-year lifespan. So we’re beyond 50 years at this point.”