More road closures on Walton Way as environmental clean up presses on

Sunday, January 13, 2019

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- It's been several months since Trinity CME Church moved to its new home on Taylor Street. Atlanta Gas Light is required to clean up contaminated soil left over from a gas plant on the old property.

Piles of dirt, gaping holes seen from above, and tall, green barriers really just scratch the surface when it comes to the work on Walton Way.

Three seasons have come and gone since the work began, removing contaminated soil deep beneath the surface where Trinity CME once stood proudly.

"I was thinking...how were they gonna move it?" said Thomas Hawkins, who has lived in the neighborhood near Trinity CME for more than a decade. "But they moved it!"

Hoisted up on big wheels and wood platforms, the church moved to its new home on 8th Street and Taylor Street.

Neighbors know how important the church is to the area.

"I went to high school at TW Josey, and one of my friends from there went there," said Hawkins. "so his momma made us go to church,"

The church hasn't had a congregation in years, but that doesn't mean it can't be put to good use. That's the Augusta Canal Authority's belief.

They just secured $15,000 from Georgia DNR to come up with a historic preservation plan for the church.

"That church will mean something," said Hawkins. "It'll be a place where people go,"

There's no final plan yet, but the Authority is thinking a community center, wedding venue, or even the center of a sculpture garden.

"It won't just be a building," said Hawkins. "It will mean something,"

Smack dab in the middle of downtown Augusta, city engineers are closing another block at 7th Street and Walton Way. But they're hoping to have the Walton Way closure open by a few weeks before the Masters.

We reached out to Atlanta Gas Light about concerns some neighbors are raising during the clean up -- like hazardous or toxic chemicals being released. Officials sent us a statement, saying in part: "Our careful measurements have found no indication of periods during which fumes have been at levels toxic to people in the surrounding areas"

The EPA says the clean up has to be done by the end of 2019.