The Georgia Department of Transportation, along with the cities of Augusta and North Augusta, are moving toward another large-scale bridge project.
GDOT anticipates starting on the replacement of the 13th Street Bridge in 2024. The department wants to replace the bridge because it is structurally deficient and does not meet current design standards.
The original, two-lane bridge was built in 1939. It was widened to four lanes in 1991.
GDOT estimates the replacement will cost just over $56.6 million.
Hameed Malik, Augusta’s director of engineering, said Augusta approached GDOT and asked about including some features.
“We’d like to you to consider some enhancements to this bridge that will help the local interest and marketability,” he said. “They were open but said, ‘You know you had to pay for it.’ So, we decided we can put $5 million from our TIA (Transportation Improvement Act). We did ask for connectivity of our trail system under the bridge and then some stairs so people can go up to a multi-use path and then it will connect to the ballpark.
The plan is to build the replacement in the current location of the bridge to minimize environmental concerns.
The bridge design shows a four-lane bridge with the northbound and southbound sides separated by a raised median.
On one side there will be a shared use path for pedestrians and cyclists. The other side will have a sidewalk. The plan shows the stairs on the South Carolina side of the bridge.
In addition to the stairs, the design incorporates a tunnel underneath 13th Street to connect the Bartram Trail to the Augusta Canal Historic Trail.
GDOT created a website for the public to review the project https://bridge-replacement-0013927-gdot.hub.arcgis.com/. The website was also used to collect public input from July 1, 2021, through August 13, 2021.
More than 2,400 people viewed the website and 122 provided comments. The majority of respondents, 90 in total, supported the projects. Another 27 expressed conditional approval, three were opposed and two were uncommitted.
Safety and crime were among the major concerns. One person recommended extensive lighting and emergency phones within the proposed tunnel. Other comments included a recommendation to remove the stairs on the South Carolina side.
GDOT said concerns about crime, along with the recommendation emergency phones be included, were provided to Augusta and North Augusta governments, as well as the law enforcement agencies.
All the written comments will be included as part of the project’s public record.