North Augusta Planning Commission discusses bridge replacements, downtown townhome plans

November 17, 2018

North Augusta Planning Commission met Thursday evening to discuss a couple of applications and hear from planning department staff about potential future bridge repairs.

During the staff reports portion of the meeting, North Augusta Planning Director Libby Hodges gave updates on the replacement of the Georgia Avenue/13th Street Bridge as well as the Interstate 20 bridge project.

Hodges said Georgia Department of Transportation and South Carolina Department of Transportation are working together on the replacement of the 13th Street Bridge, with GDOT still in the conceptual phase of the project.

Hodges said the city is engaged in the process, and Planning staff as well as city administration have had meetings with the departments of transportation.

The city’s role is mostly advisory, Hodges said, but there may be an opportunity for the city to impact construction of the bridge with regards to pedestrian access and access to amenities off the bridge.

“Part of the replacement project is capacity, so the amount of cars going across the bridge has increased, as well, so they’re going to widen that a little bit and there will be a median in place due to Georgia DOT capacity rules,” Hodges said.

The project has not been bid out yet, she said, and that process is about two years in the future.

Hodges also talked about the Interstate 20 bridge replacement project over the Savannah River, saying that the project has been bid out.

According to Georgia DOT documents, Superior Construction Company LLC has been awarded the project with a bid amount of $71,938,170.

Hodges said assuming nothing goes wrong with the Interstate 20 project, it should be completed before the 13th Street Bridge replacement.

During the meeting, Richard Fletcher with Cheatham, Fletcher, Scott Architects presented an application for review for an eight-home project off West Avenue and Bluff Avenue in downtown North Augusta.

The application is for seven two-story townhomes, all attached in a row, and one standalone two-story home.

The application was not voted on or approved, and Commission Chairman Chip Burnett described it as a “non-binding discussion.”

Burnett described the project as a “nice infill project for downtown” that would go along with the city’s Comprehensive Plan.

One issue discussed is whether a curb cut could be allowed on West Avenue in order to let traffic flow through the paved driveway, which would come out on the adjoining alley.

The curb cut would require that two parking spaces on West Avenue be lost, but Fletcher proposed that two parking places could be added to Bluff Avenue. Hodges said the city’s engineering department reported to her that would not be possible because of the curve in Bluff Avenue.

Commissioner Briton Williams said the alley in question had been mentioned for a possible extension of the Greeneway trail into downtown.

“The Greeneway downtown is very flexible, it’s not going to be like the Greeneway we’re used to,” Williams said, when Burnett brought up that vehicular traffic on a walking and biking trail could create problems.

Burnett asked Fletcher if the project would be stalled or killed if the curb cut was not allowed.

“I can’t answer that,” Fletcher said. “It’s not my decision to make.”

Glen Thompson, who is also involved in the project, spoke up and said that it likely would.

Fletcher said the project was not yet designed, and no official action was taken.

The commission voted unanimously to recommend to North Augusta City Council that it annex around 1.72 acres of land at Pisgah Road and West Five Notch Road, where a gas station currently sits.

The application was submitted by Forrest and Felix McKie, according to the meeting agenda.

Commissioner JoAnn McKie recused herself from the discussion and vote of the annexation, and Commissioner Len Carter was not present at the meeting for any votes.

Finally, the Commission voted to hold meetings on the third Thursday for each month in 2019, and voted Chip Burnett as chairman and Briton Williams as vice chairman for 2019.

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