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County likes parkway plans
09.06 effingham pkwy 1
Karla Poshedly of Moreland Altobelli shows Effingham County commissioners where engineers propose to extend Effingham Parkway into Chatham County. - photo by Photo by Pat Donahue

Effingham County commissioners were thrilled to see the progress on plans for the Effingham Parkway extension.

Karla Poshedly of Moreland Altobelli showed commissioners Tuesday afternoon where engineers are proposing to have the Effingham Parkway tie into west Chatham County roads. Their concept is to take the Effingham Parkway extension along Highlands Boulevard near its intersection with Benton Boulevard and into Jimmy Deloach Parkway near its conjunction with I-95. As it stands now, Effingham Parkway would end at Highway 30 just inside the Chatham County line.

“This is an important project and we need it to take place,” commission Chairwoman Verna Phillips said.

Phase I of the Effingham Parkway would be from Jimmy Deloach to Blue Jay Road in Effingham County. The second phase would finish the parkway to its Effingham terminus, at Little McCall Road and Highway 119.

“We looked at various alternates to bring this into Chatham,” Poshedly said.

Their study of the traffic patterns showed many of the outbound destinations from Effingham are going to I-95. Other destinations are the Savannah port and the industrial areas around the port.

“It’s essential Effingham Parkway is connected to the interstate,” Poshedly said.

Tying the Effingham Parkway extension into Jimmy Deloach also will mean more traffic on a road that doesn’t have much right now.

“Jimmy Deloach Parkway is underutilized as an interchange right now,” Poshedly said.

Moreland Altobelli engineers explored building an interchange on I-95 between the Jimmy Deloach Parkway and Highway 21 exits, but it would have been difficult to do and difficult to get approval from the Federal Highway Administration.

“There’s just no good way to do it,” Poshedly said.

Engineers also want to stay away from a road that already has a lot of existing driveways.

Jimmy Deloach is proposed to tie into the Savannah port expressway, which the Georgia Ports Authority has backed. Effingham Parkway would tie into the Jimmy Deloach Parkway and then into the port expressway.

“It would be ideal to have the Effingham Parkway right there,” Poshedly said. “That would give Effingham Parkway people an expressway right into the port, and that’s a plus.”

Jimmy Deloach is a developmental highway, Poshedly said. Chatham County had Jimmy Deloach put in and they are starting to develop a number of new homes and businesses. The area alone is going to have enough traffic for an interchange, but it has far less traffic than Highway 21 and will continue to function well, even with the tie-in of Effingham Parkway and the expected development.

“State Route 21 is so overloaded,” she said.

Aside from the Jimmy Deloach Parkway, there are several other projects near it that merit attention. Highlands Boulevard is expected to be expanded from two lanes to three and then to four.

“It’s a major collector,” Poshedly said. “A lot of that road is being built as development comes online.”

Also, subdivisions and other housing areas are sprouting up along Benton Boulevard.

“We’re going to need to widen to four lanes just for the sheer development going on,”  Poshedly said.

The Southern Connector, from Old Augusta Road to Effingham Parkway, also is on the drawing board, as are further improvements to the I-95 interchange with Highways 21 and 30 in Port Wentworth.

“The road needs to be widened,” Poshedly said.

Work on the 21/30 interchange is expected to take place as Effingham Parkway is built. But the parkway extension could be in before the Savannah port expressway, which will tie I-95 and Jimmy Deloach with a direct route to the port.

“That’s encouraging,” Phillips said.

Moreland Altobelli also is looking at a connector route from Effingham Parkway to the Savannah port expressway, with a bridge spanning I-95 to take the connector to the port expressway/Highway 21.

The next step is to present a concept plan to Tony Collins, the DOT’s district engineer. A concept meeting could take place in early October.

Once the concept is approved by the DOT, rights-of-way can be reserved and advance acquisitions can be made. Environmental studies will be needed for those advanced acquisitions. Parts of Effingham Parkway will be federally funded and environmental studies will be needed on the entire road.