Utilities Move Will Aid Highway 56 Widening And Possible Develop - WJBF-TV ABC 6 Augusta-Aiken

Utilities Move Will Aid Highway 56 Widening And Possible Development

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Chris Kuneman has operated his pool hall and restaurant business on Highway 56 for seven years, and says it's time to get started with the widening.

"Because there have been numerous accidents and deaths along through here, I've seen many accidents right here in front of my place of business...saw one young lady get killed," said Kuneman.

The city of Augusta is helping to jump start things, agreeing to spend $4.7 million to relocate water and sewer lines. More than half of this money...$2.8 million...is going to go into a hole in the ground.

The city is going to put in a 16-inch water main and run it south, in the hopes it will spur future economic development.

"In conjunction with the DOT widening of Highway 56, we're taking the opportunity to run a large water main so we can serve the Augusta Corporate Park, says Augusta Utilities Department director Tom Wiedmeier.

The Augusta Corporate Park is where Starbucks is building its new facility, but the water main isn't for this plant.

The city is spending $2.8 million for a new line in the hopes of landing another manufacturer at the site.

"I just believe it's something that we need to do to build the capacity for the future, because we are going to see more tenants in the corporate park," says Mayor Deke Copenhaver.

Kuneman wants to see more tenants at the corporate park, but says...instead of running the water line, the city needs to bring sewer service to this stretch of Highway 56, to help businesses in this area develop.

"I hope they would help the ones who are here now. This property is ready for development, there's plenty of land here. If they just had the utilities available, it would help everyone," said Kuneman.

Wiedmeier says, unlike water mains, sewer lines are not suited to run along the sides of highways. He says the department's master plan does call for sewer lines on Highway 56 in the future, but there's no timeline for that.

The DOT has other utility line issues that need to be worked out with the gas company, but the hope is to have the construction contract approved by September.

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