AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF)– Augusta’s Department of Traffic and Engineering has proposed reconstruction plans for Downtown Augusta.

The project is funded through a T-SPLOST (transportation special purpose local optional sales tax), sometimes called TIA (transportation improvement act). The goal of any TIA project is to improve the mobility in an area. That means making it easier for people to walk around, cycle, or drive and park.

First on the to-do list is improving parking. The parking wells or ‘pits’ downtown will be bulldozed, raised to ground level, and replaced with parallel parking spaces. That is projected to increase the total number of parking spaces downtown.

“I’m ready to get rid of the parking pits for sure,” said Evan Grantski, owner of Grantski Records downtown.

John Ussery of the Department of Traffic and Engineering says the pit style of parking is no longer up to standard. Many downtown business owners agree.

“The pits have been kind of nasty, disgusting, they flood and there’s a lot of problems with them,” said Eric Kinlaw, owner of Bee’s Knees. “Old school Broad Street was flat and they’re going back to that design and I think it looks really good and will beautify the city.”

The project includes sidewalk improvements and the addition of bike lanes going in each direction.

The Common will be widened and the James Brown Statue will be elevated above ground level to make it a downtown focal point. The concept is called James Brown Linear Park.

“These plans will just really give downtown a fresh new look. Our infrastructure on Broad Street in particular has needs. [Broad Street] needs a serious facelift,” Executive Director of Downtown Development Authority, Margaret Woodard said.

Developers say the construction will be done in phases as to not shut down the entire area at once.

“Finally, in a word. Progress needs to happen and I’m excited for things to improve,” Kinlaw said.

The plan also includes new landscaping, green areas, and water features.

The Department of Traffic and Engineering says the plans are just over 50 percent done, but they must be completed by the end of the year.

Construction is expected to begin late 2023 or early 2024.