Yearly Archives: 2014

Medical College of Georgia Dean Peter Buckley looked out through a glass wall of the J. Harold Harrison MD Education Commons Building and saw the steeple of Paine College’s chapel rising up above buildings on the fringe of Georgia Regents University campus and pronounced himself impressed.

“That’s beautiful,” he said, as he toured the building a day before its grand opening today. Many of those buildings will disappear and be replaced with new student housing and the parking lot in front of the new building will be replaced with green space and become a true student “quad,” said Dr. Paul Wallach, vice dean for academic affairs at MCG.

With the College of Dental Medicine building next door and the new classrooms and simulation center that will allow all of the health professional students to train together, “this is going to redefine the university,” Buckley said.

No place will exemplify that more than the new Education Commons Building, which has been carefully designed to reflect a new way of teaching and learning, Buckley and Wallach said. For instance, every place in the two 300-seat classrooms for the first- and second-year classes has power ports for connecting and also a microphone.

Rather than the “sage on the stage” style of lecturing with its one-way communication, “we want engaged learning in this classroom,” Wallach said. It will also accommodate an expansion from 190 medical students in Augusta and 40 in Athens to possible 240 and 60 sometime in the future after the school gets an accreditation visit in 2016.

Every feature of the new building seems aimed at modernizing education. All of the free areas on the first floor feature seating in different combinations to allow students to study by themselves or in groups and accommodate all different approaches to learning, he said. In others, such as McKnight Family Hall, the tables and chairs can be moved and arranged in any combination to accommodate a lecture, small group learning or any combination, Wallach said. The ceiling features four projectors, pointed at screens on each wall, that allow students to see no matter which way they might be facing, he said.

“This classroom can do many, many things,” he said. “It is very cool in here.”

The 190 students per class is one of the largest medical class sizes in the country so the school is dividing students into academic houses that will include incoming as well as more advanced students and two faculty advisors.

“The faculty and more senior students can do peer advising” of the younger students, Wallach said. That will be enhanced by 13 “learning community spaces,” which look like nice lounges with couches, chairs and a kitchen area, to which houses will be assigned.

“This is our hope through that these types of spaces and this type of program we can enhance the mentorship and the relationships as people go through their medical education,” Wallach said.

The most eye-catching part of the new Education Commons is the 40,000-square-foot Clinical Skills Center, which features many state-of-the-art simulators where budding doctors, nurses, technicians and therapists can run scenarios that can be recorded and broken down in a briefing room immediately across the hall. Wallach, who has designed these centers at other medical schools, calls this “one of the nicest in the country.” Walking down the hallway is like being in a hospital ward with all manner of patients and scenarios in each one. And the center was designed with them in mind, Wallach said.

“We have the best of what has come from the clinical environment,” he said. “We have the best of medicine, the best of nursing and we have it all together so that you can develop educational programs using any or all of this. It’s amazing.”

The center also has 30 exam rooms where students will interact with standardized patients, people taught to mimic a disease, where the encounters can also be observed and recorded and the students assessed for teamwork and interpersonal skills like making eye contact with patients.

“The old model is to cram their heads full of knowledge for two years and then kind of throw them into the hospitals,” Buckley said. “And they may or may not learn team-based approaches as well as learn to interact with people. This is from the get-go.”

And that will start with even the newest students, he said.

“From day one” they will be in the center, Buckley said. And actually, “they’re dying to get in.”

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Tom Corwin/Staff Writer

As The North Augusta Star celebrates its 60th birthday, a major part of the paper’s history was erased over the weekend.

‘Imagining the possibilities’: North Augusta’s downtown changing as former Star building torn down – North Augusta Star 

The iconic Star building, located at the corner of E. Buena Vista and Georgia avenues, was fully torn down on Friday and Saturday, with demolition beginning on Thursday.

Though the paper was housed in many locations, it ended up making the small brick building its home until 2012.

“It wasn’t the size, shape or architecture of the building, but the printed words that emanated from within that made it a part of North Augusta’s history,” Mayor Lark Jones said.

In the beginning, the second floor of the building was used as an apartment, and was also at one time used to house firefighters who worked overnight shifts.

Sam and Mim Woodring bought The Star in the fall of 1954 for $1,000. The building, which was purchased by the Woodrings in the 1960s, was slated to be fully torn down Thursday afternoon, but a water pipe issue and standing water had to be resolved.

Phyllis Britt, former editor of The Star, reflected on the significance of the building.

“The building … has been synonymous with The Star newspaper for more than 40 years, and it was the face of The Star for nearly all of my career there,” she said. “As a result, the razing of this North Augusta icon is a sad milestone in the city’s history, from my perspective. At the same time, I look forward to seeing what is in store for our beloved corner. I take comfort in the knowledge that the developers of The Star site will certainly continue with the quality effort they have begun at Jackson Square, across the street. And maybe, just maybe, the new site will honor the newspaper’s legacy with a name like Woodring Square, as suggested early on by developer Brett Brannon, in memory of The Star’s own Sam and Mim Woodring.”

For many who grew up in North Augusta, the building was a symbol of North Augusta’s downtown. That’s exactly the case for Melissa Hanna, executive editor of both The Star and the Aiken Standard.

“The Star building is very iconic to me – it’s where I did my first internship, and my father swears The Star was the first thing I read aloud when I was a child,” she said. “While I know progress is needed and necessary, that building certainly is a piece of history in North Augusta, and I will miss seeing it – it’s always served as a reminder for me of where I began and how far I’ve come in my career.”

Not only was the building iconic for its look and location, but it housed some powerful and influential voices in the community.

“For years, that building was the center of telling the story of North Augusta,” Brenda Baratto, executive director of the Aiken County Historical Museum, said. “I didn’t know Sam, but I knew Mim very well. The impact and the passion they had for their mission was reflected throughout the history of North Augusta. For me, personally, it was a place I knew I could always go to find out what was happening.”

Next to the old Star building was the office of Dr. and Mrs. Carl Shealy (parents to local attorney Arthur Shealy), and that building will also be torn down in the coming days.

The empty lots will house amusement rides for the upcoming Jack-O-Lantern Jubilee later this month. It remains to be seen what will come of the empty lots in the coming months. Though the lots have been leased by private businesses, the potential growth and what could come is exciting from the City’s perspective.

“You don’t lose a building like that and not think of the history there,” City Administrator Todd Glover said. “But, at the same time, it is very exciting to see that our downtown is growing and imagining the possibilities.”

Source: The North Augusta Star Newspaper
Author: Scott Rodgers/News Editor

Sixteen years after the project originated, River Levee Trail – located along the Augusta Canal – opened Monday for public use.

Trail opens near Augusta Canal | The Augusta Chronicle

The 1.6-mile trail extension boasts two wooden bridges, including a cable-suspension bridge.

“Most projects that are worthwhile take a long time to happen,” said Dayton Sherrouse, Augusta Canal Authority executive director. “By that measure, this is a super worthwhile project.”

Funding began in 1998, Sherrouse said, and the Augusta Canal Authority gradually completed portions as money became available.

Total cost of the extension – known as Phase Three – was $1.7 million.

“This facility is a crown jewel for our region,” said U.S. Rep. John Barrow, who was on hand for Monday’s ribbon cutting. “It’s interesting to reflect that a river used to bring people together when a river was the highway. Then we invented rivers of concrete and steel, and all of the sudden God’s original highways became a barrier. Now, as people from all over visit this trail, the canal will again be a place where folks come together.”

The trail’s surface is both concrete and asphalt, and is within walking distance from downtown Augusta.

In addition to the two bridges, there are signs that direct visitors. Restrooms were also placed on opposite ends of the trail.

“Here we are less than a half-mile from downtown and it’s like we’re in a National Park,” said Rebecca Rogers, director of marketing for the Augusta Canal Authority. “These trees are like a cathedral how they arch over the trail, especially when light shines through.

“This new addition, including the two bridges, are an unbelievable treasure for the city of Augusta.”

Mayor Deke Copenhaver was one of about 30 guests taking part in the opening ceremonies.

“For Augusta to have access to this permanently protected green space, located literally a stone’s throw from downtown, is just an amazing asset,” Copenhaver said. “It took a lot of patience and persistence to complete this project, but the canal authority was diligent in their work and did a great job of getting the needed funds.”

The trail is free to the public and remains open from sunrise to sunset.

In connection with the grand opening, two events have been scheduled for this weekend: a 5K race at 8:30 a.m. Saturday in honor of Maj. Michael Donahue, who was killed last month in Afghanistan. And a guided tour of the trail and bridges at 3 p.m. Sunday.

“We encourage everyone to come out and see the bridges,” Sherrouse said. “The cable suspension bridge is 190-feet long and looks like a miniature Golden Gate Bridge. Not only does it give you a great view of the river, but also of North Augusta. As far as I know, it’s the only suspension bridge in this part of the country.”

The $1.7 million project was funded by a $925,000 Georgia Department of Transportation grant, canal authority funds and some special purpose local option sales tax dollars.

The River Levee Trail begins near Goodrich Street and Lake Olmstead, loops under River Watch Parkway at Raes Creek and parallels the parkway toward downtown Augusta.

To access the trail, park near Lake Olmstead and walk across the Augusta Canal Bridge. After crossing the bridge, go down the canal embankment and signs will lead to the trail.

The walking, running and bike trail ends at Hawks Gully, near Reynolds and 15th streets.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Doug Stutsman/Staff Writer

After sitting mostly vacant for the past 20 years, the old Academy of Richmond County on Telfair Street will soon be revived as a learning institution for 21st century innovators.

Old Academy of Richmond County to serve Augusta’s | The Augusta Chronicle

On Nov. 1, tech hot spot the will move from its Broad Street storefront into the structure at 540 Telfair St., which opened as a school in 1802 and has served as gallery space during the Westobou Festival.

The opened in December 2012 within a 3,500-square-foot spot at 816 Broad St. At that time, space wasn’t an issue for the entrepreneurs, programmers, software designers and engineers who used the tech incubator. But now, with about 45 members and 24 local companies sharing the space, the nonprofit needed a larger footprint to work with.

The old academy provides 18,000 square feet, including an annex building.

“This just gives us the ability to finally scale what we’ve been doing for the last two years,” said Eric Parker, the’s co-founder. “It keeps everybody from being on top of each other, while they try to accomplish these activities and have a little bit of area for specialization. What’s really exciting to us is the potential for growth.”

In the first year, Parker and co-founding member Grace Belangia expect to use only the academy’s bottom floor as labs for computers and electronics, robotics, art and design, in addition to classrooms and conference areas. They envision the main entrance room as a collaboration space for events.

The additional building will be used for wood and metal work. The parade grounds will hold various events, such as the Super Happy Block Party and drone competitions, Parker said.

Next year, the group will expand on a recent capital campaign that calls for adding corporate partners to aid in sustaining the organization and its events.

Plans include renovating the upstairs for startup space and more classrooms. Parker and Belangia hope to raise the $3 million to $5 million to fully restore the building.

“This next year is sort of our provisional year to prove that what we are doing is sustainable – that we can have the financials to justify what we’re doing,” Belangia said. “I always feel like if I can say that one person has met one new person or learned one new thing, then we’re accomplishing our mission.”

The secured a lease from the trustees of the Academy of Rich­mond County in exchange for upkeep and maintenance of the property, Parker said.

The downstairs space needs cleaning, painting and electrical wiring for Internet access, he said.

Among the startup businesses that use the are consulting firms, the creator of a text message-based photography system and a custom guitar producer. One current member is working to design a new security system for the building, Parker said.

“The Silicon Valley culture is something that can thrive anywhere,” he said. “Innovation can happen anywhere, and this is a real testament to that.”

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Jenna Martin/Staff Writer

From the road skirting its property line, a former junkyard east of downtown Augusta appears uninhabitable, overwhelmed by years of unlawful dumping of auto parts, oils and solvents.

But where salvagers used to sort through smelting piles and debris near the site of an old conveyor belt, Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus envisions a 14-acre nature retreat.

On Thursday, her team of conservationists announced plans to launch a capital campaign to build a $2.3 million Savannah River Recreation and Education Center on city land leased to Bonitatibus’ organization for 99 years.

Besides upgraded office space from the 560 square feet it shares now on Riverfront Drive, plans for the project include a full disc golf course, nature trails, kayak launch, sandy beach area and fishing pier.

There will also be a wildlife education center featuring a 6,000-gallon aquarium that will hold native fish from the Savannah River, and a laboratory where local conservationists can test samples.

Community classes will be offered on topics such as clean-water stewardship, wildlife conservation, hunter education and fishing techniques.

“This opens up an area of recreation that really has not been explored,” Bonitatibus said. “It’s exciting to think what this land can become.”

Developing the future site will take at least five years and Bonitatibus said the Savannah Riverkeeper will rely on grant funding and private donations to cover project costs.

She said her team is working with the Environmental Protection Agency to get approval for cleanup assistance for the site, which will cost an estimated $4 million and is expected to begin in one to two years under the supervision of Riverkeeper staff.

“We have some property, which is relatively clean, and then we have 12 acres, which unfortunately is quite contaminated,” Bonitatibus said.

Construction of the nature center can begin before cleanup is completed, she said, adding that she hopes the center can serve as a Savannah River museum, with interactive kiosks on subjects including the history of Augusta and the Creek Indian nation.

She said her team also intends to use the site to expand its canine training program, which trains dogs to locate underground sewage leaks and toxic discharges.

“Augusta was founded because of the river and for hundreds of years, depended on the river for trade, growth and its very existence,” she said. “We look forward to displaying artifacts from the Savannah River basin and taxidermy showing the many wildlife species who still depend on the river.”

The organization has hired a fifth staff member, Communications Director Elena Fodera, to assist with capital campaign initiatives.

Bonitatibus and Riverkeeper board members also enlisted the help of Rocky Evans, the former president of Quail Unlimited.

“Augusta doesn’t currently have anything like this,” Evans said. “I’m proud to be a part of this project, which can become a major attraction for Augusta and the (surrounding area).”

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Wesley Brown/Staff Writer


There are few things more iconic in North Augusta than Lookaway Hall and Rosemary Inn.

James U. Jackson, North Augusta’s founder, cut a deck of cards with his brother, Walter, manager of the North Augusta Land Company. Walter ended up winning and picked the lot that would become Lookaway as his destination. Not to be outdone, James did his best to one-up his brother by building a house that is 50 percent bigger.

The Jackson family fortune was heavily invested in the Hampton Terrace Hotel, and when the hotel burned to the ground in 1916, so did much of the finances to operate the two homes. Through the years, the homes were used as classrooms for art and music lessons and then became private homes before they were eventually abandoned.

It wasn’t until Kelly and Diana Combs took on the unenviable task of restoring the houses to their former glory in 2009 that the two became what they are today – an award-winning bed and breakfast and an award-winning hotel.

The beginning

Milledge Murray, president of the Heritage Council of North Augusta, said to understand the homes, one would need to get in the mindset of living in Augusta in the 19th century.

“Every day you’re on Broad Street, which was the main industry,” he said. “You looked across the river, and you saw this big hill. It was probably a magnificent sight. When the trolley system was set up in Augusta, that was a very important means of moving people around and in the main residential areas. Augusta flooded a lot, and you didn’t have a levee. James U. Jackson was in the business for raising capital, and built up connections in New York. We have comfortable winter times down here; and when they were able to acquire 5,600 acres of land with the North Augusta Land Company, in 1890 or 1891, then they built the bridge that became Augusta’s new fancy neighborhood.

“It’s the fancy one because they were able to develop it. They had the plans of developing the finest hotel in the world, but that didn’t take place until 1903. The legend has it that you had these two prime lots. At the top of the hill they knew they were putting the hotel, and they had developed a golf course. You would have one in the center and one to the left.”

After Walter picked the Lookaway lot, he built the home in 1895. Rosemary wasn’t completed until 1902.

“I think they called it Lookaway Hall because it had this beautiful view right down the middle of the street over to Georgia,” Murray said. “You didn’t have the trees and buildings, you just had the golf course around the land. … James U. Jackson died in 1925, and his daughter was a lady by the name of Edith. She married James Bishop Alexander, and she became Edith Jackson Alexander. She wasn’t a teacher, but an artist.”

Transition and decline

Due to the Hampton Terrace burning to the ground, much of the funding the Jackson family had relied upon to keep up the houses went with it.

Edith lived in Rosemary Hall after her father’s passing, and there she taught art classes, both on the canvas and through music. She lived there with her family until the 1980s. Residents included Daisy King Jackson and her family, as well as John Williams Jackson.

“To think that after the fire, (Rosemary) just went downhill,” Diana Combs said. “There probably wasn’t much of a staff left after that. The pictures I’ve seen show the house without paint on it, without shutters or even with the shutters entirely closed. People talked about it like it was the old, brown house because it didn’t have any paint. Daisy didn’t stay here the rest of her life, but Edith did.”

Dr. Henry Mealing bought Lookaway in 1936, Murray said.

“Dr. Mealing lived there for many years, and he was real famous for his hobby, which was camellias,” Murray said. “He also produced orchids. When Queen Elizabeth decided she wanted a specific type of orchid that smelled a specific way, he provided the wedding orchids for her. It’s pretty cool to think of North Augusta being a part of the royal wedding.”

Both houses eventually fell into decline and became overrun with pests and overgrowth. A close friend to Kelly and Diana Combs convinced the couple to make a trip from California to visit the two houses.

Sept. 9, 2009

Kelly attended the practice rounds at The Masters in 2008, and had no idea what was across the river. He convinced his wife to come and visit their friends, Bill and Debbie Turner. Both can recall their first visit, which was at Lookaway.

“They had been locked up, and they were so flea infested, that when we walked in – this is not an over exaggeration – I had some white capri pants and tennis shoes – we were jumped on by hundreds,” Diana said.

Kelly followed that up by saying they, along with the banker, had to quickly get outside. The houses had to be sprayed so they could even walk in and tour them.

“I thought it was very quiet in Lookaway,” Kelly said. “It felt like there wasn’t any life in there. It didn’t feel like a home or anything. Even though cars were zooming by on Georgia Avenue, it was very quiet in there. A lot of the rooms hadn’t been opened, and there was mold everywhere with leaks. I remember looking at all of the rooms and thinking ‘Oh my gosh, you have got to be kidding me.’”

Walking across the street and looking at Rosemary, Diana said she had a different feeling.

“I felt like this house was crying for someone to take care of it,” she said. “(Rosemary) was just so stuffed with junk, and the drapes were dirty, and I can’t even begin to tell you what else. We walked the whole house, and we came downstairs and we were taken by all of the magnificent woodwork.”

The Combses said that the houses had previously gone up for a public auction before their arrival.

No one bid on them, and though their interest was piqued by Rosemary, they weren’t as interested in Lookaway. However, the houses ended up being a package deal, and a quick decision was needed.

“The conditions were right for what I was doing,” Kelly said. “Our kids were in college or out of the house. Here, I could not get financing, so that was a major contingency. We had to get financing from some bank, so we took the stance that if it was meant to be, we would get financing. The final thing was that the houses needed to pass inspection. If the inspection proved this was going to be too costly to repair, that would prevent us from buying it.

“… The inspection came back, and it turned out that these were really solid houses. They had a lot of damage, but there was nothing structurally wrong that would lead to them falling apart. These are built like tanks. Georgia Bank and Trust really wanted to unload these, so they worked with us.”

The Combses finalized the sale on Sept. 9, 2009.

“It’s really complex, but it’s really simple: God guides,” Diana said as to how they ended up with the two homes, with Kelly also echoing that. “If you start to look at every single detail, God really had it all knit together. It was all going to flow, and at the time, we just saw strings everywhere. To know he came through, and it was all knit together; God shuts doors and opens windows. For us, when I look back, I see how much we have been able to accomplished in these first five years. There isn’t one inch of these houses that hasn’t been rebuilt. We have done the interiors completely in both properties.

“It’s a rebirth of the houses. We’ve put things together to make them look right. We’ve been able to utilize a lot of things that were our own.”

Source: The North Augusta Star
Author: Scott Rodgers/News Editor


What opened in 1860 as a wagon factory on the corner of Ellis and Ninth streets will soon provide more downtown residential rentals.

Historic warehouse to be converted into downtown apartments | The Augusta Chronicle

Augusta general contractor Mark Donahue is converting the former Lowrey Wagon Works, which has sat boarded-up for years, into 19 loft and 1-bedroom apartments. Donahue has spent the past three weeks inside the 15,000-square-foot building installing a new roof and exterior windows.

“I’ve been looking to buy this building for about 9 1/2 years and finally it came up for sale,” said Donahue, who owns Peach Contractors Inc. “I love the history of it. I love the fact that I’m able to preserve it.”

Donahue expects his project will be completed by next summer.

In May, Donahue purchased the property for $230,000 from Augusta Renaissance Partners LLC, a partnership comprised of local businessmen Clay and Braye Boardman, Tom and Tommy Blanchard, Julian Roberts and Turner Simpkins.

“That building has no interior walls in it, which is fantastic,” Donahue said. “It’s a big open warehouse. It poses no challenges when it comes to structure.”

The units will retain 11-foot-high ceilings and refinished original hardwood floors. Donahue said the apartments, starting at 600 square feet, will begin renting at $650 per month.

In addition to the three-story building, Donahue owns the adjacent 39-space parking lot.

Steeped in history, the warehouse at 912 Ellis St. was initially built as Lowrey Wagon Works on the eve of the Civil War. It was confiscated for use as a Confederate shoe factory, and in 1865, turned into Augusta’s first black school by a group of local churches, according to Historic Augusta, which placed the property on its Most Endangered Historic Properties list in 2007.

The property’s original owner, Jacob Lowrey, reacquired the building in 1866 and resumed wagon operations there for decades. The structure also has been used as a warehouse by the former J.B. White store and was part of an old bicycle shop that is now a paved parking lot.

By working with Historic Augusta, Donahue was able to find state and federal tax credits available to developers doing historic rehabilitation projects. Another beneficial incentive, he said, is offered by the city and freezes his property value at $230,000 for the first nine years to aid with property taxes.

Donahue also is in line to apply for a $250,000 Georgia Cities Foundation loan, which is offered at a 3 percent interest rate and funds up to 40 percent of the total cost, said Margaret Woodard, executive director of the city’s Downtown Development Authority.

Woodard said that Donahue’s development is one of several under construction downtown, like CanalSide in the medical district and the redevelopment of 1162 Broad St., that are adding needed residential units.

“It just reinforces that people are returning to the urban core and want to live here,” she said, “and we can’t build housing fast enough.”

Donahue’s other downtown restoration projects include Castle Hall at 309 Eighth St., the Henry-Cohen House at 920 Greene St., and the Mrs. T.R. Maxwell Building at 1246 Broad St., which finished in January and is fully occupied.

“The buildings pay for themselves once they lease up,” Donahue said.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Jenna Martin/Staff Writer


Construction has started on a modern, boutique-style apartment building along the Augusta Canal within the city’s medical district.

A ceremony for the 106-unit building, aptly named CanalSide, was held Tuesday at 1399 Walton Way as developers gathered with city officials to kick off the project. Site work on the property started in late August.

The four-story building will include a mixture of 1- and 2-bedroom units that range from 500 to 1,000 square feet. The apartments should be complete by May 2015 and will be priced at a monthly rent between $850 to $1,300, said Jack Levinson, vice president of the Charlotte, N.C.-based developer, Lat Purser & Associates Inc.

“What we look for in sites are urban in-fill sites, and part of the question is if we have a site that’s a high walkability,” said Levinson, whose company will add crosswalks on Walton Way. “This one isn’t quite as close as we typically would be to a downtown area, but it’s close. We are very close and walkable to the hospital and the medical school.”

Levinson listed graduate students and Fort Gordon personnel as expected tenants.

The privately-funded development is across from University Hospital on a narrow 2.5-acre plat at the corner of Walton and St. Sebastian ways. The investment cost will total about $11 million, Levinson said.

A separate road improvement project is underway in front of the property that will bring a new traffic light at Walton Way and D’Antignac Street. The light should be installed before the apartments are complete, Levinson said.

“The mayor was very compelling that there’s a very private-public effort to bring residents and more population to the downtown and urban core,” said Levinson, who met with Mayor Deke Copenhaver about the development in spring 2013. “It was very compelling, so we went away very excited.”

The apartments will be managed by My Niche Apartments, a subsidiary of Lat Purser & Associates, which has a portfolio of 16 apartment developments finished or under construction in Savannah, Ga., and across the Carolinas.

Each “niche” is built with a unique, eco-friendly design located in “colorful” and “eclectic” neighborhoods, according to the company’s web site,

A page for CanalSide with exterior renderings is viewable on the company’s web site, but Levinson said more details will be added in the next two weeks.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Jenna Martin/Staff Writer

A nearly-complete walking, running and bike trail along the Augusta Canal featuring the city’s only suspension bridge will open up expansive views of the Savannah River and North Augusta.

The construction punchlist on the River Levee Trail should be complete in the next few weeks, said Dayton Sherrouse, the Augusta Canal Authority’s executive director. The last bit of construction activity hasn’t stopped outdoor enthusiasts from getting out on the trail, he said.

“A lot of people are already finding it, although it’s not officially open yet,” he said. “It’s a project that’s most anticipated by the public.”

Contractors for the project are working on last minute paving work. Then, signs must be installed, Sherrouse said.

The River Levee Trail begins near Goodrich Street and Lake Olmstead, loops under River Watch Parkway at Raes Creek and parallels the parkway towards downtown Augusta.

Behind Sibley and King mills, new bridges breach the tailrace areas that flow into the river.

A boardwalk gives access to the upper level of the river levee before the trail ends at Hawks Gully. Sherrouse said future funding could extend the trail even further.

The suspension bridge located behind King Mill is a highlight of the multipurpose paved trail, Sherrouse said. It offers new vistas of the river and historic mills.

“The cable suspension bridge is 190 feet long. It’s a unique, signature piece for Augusta,” he said.

The trail also features two solar-powered bathrooms with technology that eliminates odors. They were installed last month at the Sibley Mill tailrace and near the raw water pumping station.

The $1.7 million project was funded by a $925,000 Georgia Department of Transportation grant, canal authority funds and some special purpose local option sales tax dollars.

Source: The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Meg Mirshak/Staff Writer