Tuesday, August 26, 2014
North Augusta is now home to a Park & Ride facility at Exit 5.
Located between I-20 west and Austin Graybill Road, the $1.6 million facility was constructed to reduce traffic on major arterials in the CSRA and reduce air pollution.
“This is a federally funded project – obviously the City of North Augusta wouldn’t have the funds to do something like this – that is primarily to encourage carpooling and wiser use of resources,” Lark Jones, mayor of North Augusta, said. “You know, this area is being closely watched by the EPA on what they call ‘non-attainment’ about air quality standards – we’ve been on the cusp of non-attainment, which would create a lot of hassle and red tape for development and things of that nature.”
The partnership between the City, local and state organizations is the first of its kind in Aiken County.
“This is a step toward the future of this region of Aiken and Edgefield counties,” Randy Young, Midlands regional production engineer for SCDOT, said. “I’m excited that citizens, planners and political officials in this region had the foresight and determination to prepare for the future of this area by executing this park and ride facility that you see today. The Park & Ride facility is not just a great idea, it’s integral and necessary to address the growing needs of our citizens and to address the aging and stress and underfunded road structure in South Carolina and nationwide.”
Jack Porter, of South Carolina’s Department of Health and Environmental Control, said following this project from 2004 to completion made the grand opening a happy occasion.
“This facility represents many thing – it shows the willingness of this area to invest in a project that reduces mobile source emissions and improves air quality through voluntary actions like ride sharing,” he said. “Secondly, this project does more than benefit air quality – the rain garden contains storm water runoff, benefiting water quality. The LED lighting – which I’m told we’ll have soon – saves energy and reduces maintenance costs. Finally, this park and ride project will be used as an example for other areas in South Carolina, and the Southeast, on how local governments, industries, state agencies and involved citizens can work together to create something that will benefit everyone.”
The 220-space Park & Ride will be a major asset for employees moving across state lines for work, said Will Williams, president and CEO of the Economic Development Partnership.
“For the employees of this area, those that commute from the Georgia side to Aiken County, and those from Aiken County who commute to Georgia, this will be for them to help with cost-savings, as they can travel in one car,” Williams said. “I’m very excited about this for several reasons. Industries I deal with are very excited about this, because, again, it allows their employees to have a central meeting place to commute to work. One thing that our industries are doing is working day in and day out to reduce their impact on the environment, whether it be emissions or their use of landfills, they are working daily. This is another thing that they will utilize to help them reduce that footprint.”
For project manager Skip Grkovic, the Park & Ride facility is the culmination of nearly seven years of work.
“One of the things that came up as I-520 was being constructed was the air quality issue,” he said. “The Park & Ride is an example of what the multi-county coalition can do to minimize the adverse air quality designations. We knew this property would come available and that we had money available, so we proposed the concept and it was approved, and this was the result.”
The North Augusta Park & Ride facility is located at Interstate 20, Exit 5 and U.S. Highway 25.
T.J. Lundeen is a reporter for The North Augusta Star. Follow him on Twitter @lundeentj for more updates.