Historic Augusta bridge will close this week for pedestrian conversion

ajc.com

Drivers have only a few days to make vehicle trips over a historic bridge between Georgia and South Carolina before it closes for conversion to pedestrian use.

Augusta Engineering Director Hameed Malik tells The Augusta Chronicle that the city's Fifth Street Bridge is still on track to close on May 15.

Restoring the 1932 bridge and adding park-like features will take about 18 months and the bridge will open to foot traffic in early 2022, he said.

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The bridge project is expected to cost $10.5 million and current funding includes $9.5 million in local sales tax money and a $1 million state grant.

Architectural plans show an emphasis on the bridge’s history. Dickinson Architects included a shade plaza at the point where the bridge formerly rotated to allow steamboats to pass and a “history walk” with exhibits on the Georgia and South Carolina sides, according to the city.

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Plan for a day of sightseeing around these six bridges and their nearby communities: Watson Mill Bridge is the longest covered bridge in the state and one of the longest in the U.S. Poole's Mill Bridge is over Settledown Creek in Poole’s Mill Park Concord Road Bridge has seen several changes over the years and still allows vehicle traffic Cromer's Mill Bridge is a 110-foot bridge, and a descendant of the original Cromer family built the stone abutments. Coheelee Creek Bridge is said to be the souther

North Augusta currently has no plans for its side of the bridge — such as connecting it with the city’s pedestrian trail — Mayor Bob Pettit said.

The city paid $910,000 for 4.27 acres (1.73 hectares) of riverfront land near the bridge in 2009. Pettit said he expects it to be privately developed.

The green iron railing on the bridge is too low and open to be safe, particularly for children, according to Malik. Dickinson designed a cable railing to install adjacent to the existing railing, he said.

Lampposts will run down the center of the path and enough space will allow emergency vehicles to use the bridge. Other features include a water fountain, playground equipment, a maze and musical instruments, shaded benches and device chargers.

Lights will be installed under the bridge that can change colors.

The city’s plans don’t reference bike lanes or the bridge’s connection to the area’s Confederate past. Located on the Jefferson Davis Highway, the bridge is commonly known as the Jefferson Davis Highway Bridge, and plaques on each side note the Confederacy’s only president.