I-20 bridge widening should not cause detour off Interstate

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Drivers crossing the Interstate 20 bridges between Georgia and South Carolina can expect to have a safer commute after major construction is complete.

The earliest drivers will probably see a design of the bridge going over the Augusta Canal and the Savannah River will be fall 2017.  After years and years of crashes and traffic jams at the Georgia and South Carolina state lines, both states are ready to pay up.

Leo Tanguma hauls freight back and forth from Texas a handful of times each year, he says navigating that part of I-20 in a semi can be a tough haul, “It makes it harder for cars to try to maneuver around.  That makes it dangerous.”

The truck driver told us he likes the people in Georgia and South Carolina, but he’s nervous about the drive across the I-20 bridge with them.

“They have to scoot over more and [that] makes it a little more narrower and that’s not good,” he said.

Don Grantham, Georgia Department of Transportation’s District 12 Board Member said he understands heavy traffic patterns and infrastructure to be the issue too.

“The bridge is narrow and the roadway feeding into that bridge is narrow.  That’s what has created some of those accidents as I understand.”

NewsChannel 6 has covered crash after crash on the bridge.  Now that both states have signed on to fund the $75 million project, the process for widening can start.

“It will be wider lanes.  That is one of the necessary things. As well as possibly a third lane, I’m not sure yet,” he explained.

Both bridges-crossing the Augusta Canal and the Savannah River will become one.  Grantham told us traffic must become slower while work is being done.

“Since you have two bridges going east and west with two lanes, one of those will be closed down and there will be two-way traffic on the remaining bridge.”

Grantham said the same thing will happen with the other bridge and there will be no need for a detour off the Interstate.  He added one of the states will lead the construction project.  Before that, the public will see and weigh-in on suggested designs as early as this fall.

“Some renderings, some type of engineering design work presented, nothing finalized, but something to suggest what might take place.”

Work won’t begin until around late 2019 or early 2020.  Until then, drivers still need to slow down and watch for construction workers. Some drivers told us they already know to do just that.

“You expect bridges to be narrow because they’re not as big as the rest of the road because they have to cross water,” Lee Williams, of Virginia said.

More than 60,000 vehicles travel on I-20 on the Georgia and South Carolina line. The Palmetto State will take a larger portion of the funding at 65 percent while Georgia will fund the rest of it.

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