Thursday, Oct. 26, 2017

NEWS 12 at 6 o’clock/NBC 26 News at 7


COLUMBIA COUNTY, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – The project transforming Old Petersburg Road into a Riverwatch Parkway extension has been a long time coming.

Perhaps you may recall the former roadway referred to as Old Petersburg Road, a quiet two-lane road. But if you take a look at it now it's a four-lane road with a median and it's much busier.

It didn't come as a surprise. Plans to widen the former Old Petersburg Road started almost two decades ago.

The groundbreaking began in 2014 with a deadline of April 2017. Six months later work on Riverwatch is still ongoing.

Vernon Smith, a local RE/MAX realtor has spoken to at least 40 homeowners trying to sell, “It has been three years long, drawn-out process.” Smith continues, “Some of them have been here for over 30 years, and it'd be too emotional for them to leave.”

Tonya Looper has lived here for 38 years. “All this...has dropped...what like 10 feet,” she explains to Brooke. Standing in the front of her home looking down, she states with frustration, “Now we look down at a big mess that it seems like nobody wants to answer questions about.”

All she sees is a steep eroded hill that used to be part of her front yard. “We can deal with the noises and everything else but it's really the yard, the lack of space,” Looper expressed.

She's seen plenty of accidents here too. Something this new traffic light may help prevent.

As one deadline passed, Georgia DOT gave the contractor an extension. By the end of the year, the 3 mile 4-lane widening project should finally come to an end. GDOT says crews are laying asphalt on Riverwatch then working on other side roads until the whole project is complete.

“Everything has been growing up, it's just a huge change, it really is. It's just something to adapt to,” said Looper.

GDOT is confident the majority of Riverwatch Parkway will finish by December 15th of this year. They say Washington road is up next to finish by February.

And at least 40 homeowners are hoping they're not around to see it.