Masters Patrons Weigh In On Berckmans Road Realignment
By Mike Miller, WJBF Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter - email
Augusta, GA -
The main gate for patrons at Augusta National Golf Club could have a different look in a few years as city officials move forward with plans to realign Berckmans Road with Alexander Drive.
It's a plan that has been talked about for years, but in December, Augusta National helped get the ball rolling by offering the city an interest free loan.
A long stretch of the road will soon become the property of Augusta National Golf Club. City leaders say construction on the new Berckmans Road could begin very soon, especially now that club officials have provided the city with a $16.7 million loan.
"Once that decision was made, we were, of course, anxious for it to begin because it improves the traffic flow dealing with our tournament and so we kind of told them, don't worry about the money," Augusta National Golf Club Chairman William "Billy" Payne said.
For many, it's a road with a lot of history, but the rolling Berckman hills have changed a lot during the last ten years.
"Many, many changes in this area. In particular, this area use to be a housing development. And over the years, of course, the members have bought up all houses and now if you look around, it's just a giant parking lot," Masters patron Dennis Palmer said.
But, that giant parking lot is going to change, as well, because the new Berckmans Road is going to be rerouted through it. The road will realign with Alexander Drive and Washington Road. It's a plan that some locals have been fighting for years, but for out-of-towners, it all makes sense.
"They want to divert the road to make it easier for people to get in and out on the National? And maybe the local people are thinking, actually, this is a road that has been here a long while. We are used to going down it. People don't like change," said Perry Thurston. "Is that where you're coming from?" we asked. "Well, change is change," Thurston said.
"What are they doing to put here? Another 9 holes or 18 or something?" Doug Snider asked.
"I saw that in a magazine. I saw they are going to reroute it a quarter mile this way. It will alleviate a lot of the traffic problems that we are having today," Palmer said.
Traffic engineers say the new Berckmans Road will have underground tunnel walkways so that pedestrians can cross the road safely.