AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — Augusta-Richmond County is expected to receive $25 million as part of the federal infrastructure bill approved by President Joe Biden this week. The city’s engineering department already has projects lined up that could use the funding.
“There are projects that will come out to $350 or $400 million that I can easily submit the proposals for,” Hameed Malik, the city’s assistant director of engineering, said.
The city’s goal is to fix roads and improve traffic flow. Among the areas most in need of repair is Central Avenue near the Medical District.
“If we can improve Central Avenue, that will relieve the pressure from Wrightsboro Road.”
The construction on Central Avenue is projected to cost $38 to $40 million. Malik says sidewalks need to be fixed, and street lights needs to be added. Much of the money would be used to improve infrastructure below the surface, including fixing storm drains and moving power lines underground. According to Malik, Augusta’s sewer system is more than 100-years-old and made of brick, which creates problems for many streets.
“Those things need to be taken care of at the same time or first. We can improve the roads, but if we’re not fixing the actual problem, it may last a year or two, and the problem is going to pop up.”
These improvements can not come soon enough for residents, like Jyhri Basabe.
“I ran over a pothole,” Basabe explained. “It busted the tire. I had to go get another one. I had to constantly get tires before I got my new car.”
Augusta’s Engineering Department is also looking to improve the city’s downtown and riverwalk areas. Six projects are either under construction or in the design phase.
“The main emphasis is to get the roads and traffic flow improved to help businesses grow.”
The city is also considering widening sidewalks so more restaurants can offer outdoor seating.
“If we have infrastructure in place, it’s easy to attract businesses and development. Then, investors can see that the city is really interested in helping businesses, so they may be willing to invest.”
Each project will need to be approved before the city can use federal funding to finance it. Malik tells NewsChannel 6 he does not expect these projects to begin until 2023. He says they may take a while to be completed due to a construction worker shortage.