AUGUSTA, Ga. (WJBF) — If you’ve been using Calhoun Expressway to avoid the construction on River Watch Parkway as you make your way to and from downtown, you might need to find yet another alternate route.
“I think (those traveling Calhoun Expressway) are going to notice a major difference,” said Abie Ladson, who is the director of Augusta’s Engineering Department.
The most obvious and immediate change you’ll notice is the removal of the the familiar street lights that have stood on Calhoun Expressway for decades. They will be replaced by ones like the new lights on River Watch Parkway (below).
“They probably already notice a major difference right now with the street lights being taken down,” Ladson said. “It’s going to be a major difference and I think people will be very proud of it.”
As part of the $8.4 million project, the road will be resurfaced, both inside and outside shoulders will be replaced, barrier walls will be cleaned to look like new and, perhaps most importantly according to Ladson, the area will be freshly landscaped to provide a more aesthetically pleasing view for those entering and departing downtown.
But for now construction will mean traffic headaches for those already trying to avoid the construction on River Watch, with frequent lane closures along the three mile stretch.
“It’s a lot of traffic flowing in the morning and in the evening because it’s backed up,” said Leafec Harvey, who owns Harvey’s Auto Salon which sits where Calhoun Expressway empties into downtown.
He says the traffic may actually be a good thing for businesses.
“More people has been coming downtown that has been using the expressway like River Watch,” he said. “Now (they’re) going up Calhoun Expressway so it’s giving more visibility to the downtown area.”
In the long run city officials believe the benefits of the facelift will extend far beyond downtown.
“It’s a sign of growth and improvement to our area, especially from an infrastructure standpoint,” Ladson said.
But in the meantime: “Be patient,” said Ladson. “You may have to leave a little earlier. I know I do ’cause I travel on John C. Calhoun. So you may have to leave a little earlier, but once it’s done I think everyone will be proud of it.”
The project is being paid for by the Transportation Investment Act. Ladson says they hope to have it all done in time for next year’s Masters Tournament.