Albert Welch, North Augusta Rotary Club, Georgia DOT

Albert "Butch" Welch, project manager for the Georgia Department of Transportation, spoke at the North Augusta Rotary Club meeting Thursday morning about the Interstate 20 widening and bridge replacement project. 

Construction on the Interstate 20 widening project will begin before the end of the year, according to a presentation given by project manager Albert Welch.

On Thursday morning, the North Augusta Rotary Club hosted Welch, with Georgia Department of Transportation, to speak about the project and the timeline of the project, which will replace the Augusta Canal and Savannah River bridges and widen the interstate between the Georgia Welcome Center in Georgia and Exit 1 in North Augusta at West Martintown Road.

Welch stressed during the presentation that traffic will be maintained throughout the life of the project but that the lanes would go down to one lane during certain periods – such as off-peak times.

The Interstate 20 bridge project is a design-build project, which combines pre-construction work – like design – with construction services into one contract.

Welch said during the meeting the design-build process reduces cost, improves communication and expedites project delivery. “It allows the project funding to be allocated early,” Welch said.

Superior Construction is the contractor for the project, and the project is worth $82 million.

GDOT is taking the lead on the project, but there is a bi-state agreement between GDOT and the South Carolina Department of Transportation. Welch said the lanes in South Carolina will be built to SCDOT’s specifications. GDOT is taking the lead because 53% of the 1.8-mile project is located in Georgia, and the other 47% is in South Carolina.

The design and environmental aspects of the project are ongoing. Earlier this year, contractors did some initial geotechnical boring, but construction on the project will begin sometime during the fourth quarter of this year, with construction completed by the first quarter of 2022.

Todd Glover, president of the North Augusta Rotary Club and North Augusta city administrator, said the project will affect the area for the next couple of years and mentioned the 13th Street/Georgia Avenue bridge replacement is also on the horizon.

“So there’s a lot of transportation projects that will be in the forefront for us in the foreseeable future,” Glover said.

Libby Hodges, director of planning and development for North Augusta, said in November 2018 assuming nothing goes wrong with the Interstate 20 project, it should be completed before the 13th Street Bridge replacement.

The Savannah River and Augusta Canal bridges aren't the only ones on Interstate 20 up for replacement.

A press release from SCDOT says the department is holding a public information meeting this month to provide information and receive input on potential improvements to the bridges on I-20 over the North Augusta Greeneway, over Gregory Road, over Edgefield Highway and over the South Edisto River.

The meeting will be held at Paul Knox Middle School from 5 to 7 p.m. on Thursday, July 25.

Lindsey Hodges is a general assignment reporter at the Aiken Standard and North Augusta Star. Follow her on Twitter at @LindseyNHodges.