The Fifth Street Bridge is one of six spans over the Savannah River in Augusta.
It is in desperate need of repairs.
There is about $8 million dollars in T-SPLOST to pay for it, though the vehicular traffic over this bridge will also be finished.
Drivers across the bridge already know it, there’s a lot of repair work needed, but city engineers say to keep traffic flowing on the bridge will cost a lot more than the $8 million dollars set a side.
“There’s more extensive repairs needed if vehicles are going to go back on the bridge, because of the weight and all the stress it puts on the bridge. But if we switched it to a pedestrian type bridge, it still needs to be repaired. The repairs are not so extensive,” said John Ussery, city Traffic Engineer.
So engineers are recommending spending the $8 million dollars in T-SPLOST and fixing the bridge for bikes and pedestrians only.
“I’m not so sure about that one George. I need to look at that. People are talking about walking across, who’s going to drive to the Fifth Street bridge just walk across the bridge and walk back?” said Commissioner Marion Williams.
“We could do a lot of neat things with the bridge deck itself. The fencing and some of the aesthetics part of it we couldn’t do before, to make it look much nicer than we could if vehicles were back on it,” said Ussery.
It’s not a new idea. In 2009 the Westabou Master Plan called for getting traffic off the bridge and transforming it into an events area with specialty shops and restaurants.
“It’s actually wide enough. If it’s a pedestrian bicycle bridge to put a coffee shop in there, those types of things,” says Ussery.
But if you can’t fix the bridge for traffic, can you close it all together and use the money for another T-SPLOST project?
“No, once they program a project for a certain dollar amount you have to spend it in that category. So we couldn’t take some of that money and put it in a different project,” says Ussery
Commissioners have approved about $700 thousand dollars for the engineering design work on the bridge. The actual repairs should start sometime next year. Maybe you’ll be able to walk out there and get yourself a cup of coffee in Augusta George Eskola WJBF NewsChannel 6.