AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Downtown Augusta has seen it’s fair share of improvements over the years.
From new restaurants to redesigned streets, the Garden City looks to keep growing.
Recently, some photos started circulating on social media showing some concepts of what Broad Street could look like in the future.
We reached out to John Ussery with Augusta Traffic and Engineering to get a better idea of what we can expect in the Garden City in the future.
There’s been some pictures floating around on social media about some changes to the downtown area. Let’s talk a little bit about it.
“We gave a presentation to the commission last week about the improvements that we plan on making to Broad Street,” says Ussery. “The way it is now will change quite a bit after our projects are completed. These are all projects that are being funded by TIA Program, or the Transportation Improvement Act, or some people call it the T-SPLOST, and Broad Street is just the last of the series of downtown streets that are going to be upgraded as part of this program. Broad Street, in particular, has a lot of unique features on it. So, we wanted to improve pretty much all aspects of Broad Street. Right now it has the sunken parking wells, which we acknowledge are unique. You really don’t find many of those; but they are, by modern standards, outdated. They take up a lot of room, they’re not real safe – as far as pulling in and out of parking stalls , they’re difficult to see in and out of. So, those will be removed and everything will be brought up to the surface level and then we plan on making all kinds of improvements to some of the angle parking, some additional meeting islands, and instead of just having concrete islands on the west end of Broad Street near the restaurants, we hope to include additional median space for landscaping and make something a little more pleasing than what’s out there today, but still maintain the parking that we have,” said John Ussery.
One thing that’s on a lot of people’s minds is the area around the Augusta Commons and the James Brown Statue.
“The James Brown statue right now just sits in a little park in the middle of the road, but we want to actually widen the park a little bit make it more pleasing place to be and to hang out. The statue itself will be relocated on the top of a big concrete pedestal. So, it will be sitting above ground level unlike the current one that’s basically at ground level. There will be water features and shade and unique landscaping and places to sit. So, we’re really excited about some of the changes that will be coming to that area.”
So, are all of these just concepts of what you want the area to be?
“Well, we’re currently at the 60 percent plan stage. So, what that means is the final engineering plans are just a little over half way done. We still have a lot of work to do on them, but it’s a good half way point to try to show moving from a concept to something we can actually build and so, in that area in particular around the James Brown Statue, the design is closely matching the concept that was shown several years ago,” said Ussery.
Is there a timeframe on when these things will be coming to Augusta?
“So, as far as the TIA program, we’re required to have the engineering design and the contractor on board by the end of this year. So, by the end of 2022, the engineering design will be complete and we’re going to hire a contractor with a lot of experience building large projects and they’re going to help us with a lot of the construction staging and that sort of thing; but by the end of this year we should have those two items in place and the actual physical construction of the street should take place some time late 2023 or early 2024. With the TIA program, we actually have five or six different streets downtown that will be reconstructed. We’ve already completed 9th, or James Brown Boulevard, near the library and then all the way up to Laney Walker. So, that one’s done, but we still have to do 5th Street, Sixth Street, Telfair Street, 13th Street, Greene Street, and – of course – Broad Street. So, we have to be very careful how we stage those projects, because we can’t have everything all torn up at the same time; it would be impossible to get around Downtown. So, we’re going to hire with Broad, specifically, a consultant who is used to dealing with these types of large, multi-million dollar projects and they’ll help us make sure that we can keep traffic kind of flowing downtown as all this stuff is constucted,” said Ussery.
The future looks bright for Downtown Augusta and it’s just a matter of time before we start seeing some of the changes.