Some residents along Fort Howard and Rincon Stillwell roads will be getting notices soon that their addresses won’t be Fort Howard Road or Rincon Stillwell Road.
Interim county administrator Toss Allen said that about 70 residences are being re-addressed because of the completion of Old Augusta Road phase 2. That phase, a stretch from Chimney Road to Rincon Stillwell Road, started 18 months ago.
“The lion’s share of it is done,” Allen said.
The next project for Old Augusta Road improvements includes installing a signal at its terminus at Highway 21, just inside the Effingham-Chatham county line.
Allen discussed the address changes with Effingham County commissioners at their meeting last Tuesday and with participants at the annual Effingham Chamber of Commerce retreat. He and Brad Saxon of the state Department of Transportation also discussed the road improvement projects slated for Effingham.
Among the upgrades under consideration are roundabouts for the intersection of Highways 17 and 119 in Guyton and a roundabout for the Highway 275-Rincon Stillwell Road junction. Also on the drawing board is a roundabout for the Blue Jay-McCall roads intersection. The Blue Jay-McCall project is being funded through a federal road safety improvement program.
“At Blue Jay and McCall we have to purchase right-of-way and relocate utilities,” Allen said.
The state DOT also is performing what it calls “quick response projects,” road work that can be performed for under $200,000. The state will install deceleration lanes along Highway 17 at its junctures with Jabez Jones and Courthouse roads. The DOT also will put in a deceleration lane at the Highway 30-Hodgeville Road intersection. Though not a project in Effingham, it is a connector used by many Effingham residents.
“These are small, operational projects where you get a lot of bang for your buck and you help a lot of people,” Saxon said. “You should see some of these going on in the next month.”
Another project that isn’t in Effingham but will have an impact on its residents and drivers is the Interstate 95-Highway 21 interchange in Port Wentworth. Saxon called it “the number one problem in southeast Georgia.”
“We need relief,” he said.
The state contracted a study to get what Saxon noted was a “fresh set of eyes” on potential solutions and has set aside $500,000 for engineering.
Also scheduled to take place soon is the replacement of the Highway 80 bridge over the Ogeechee River near Dasher’s Landing.
Saxon said the state also wants to improve Effingham’s only interstate interchange, I-16 at Old River Road. He said he has advised the county to get the planning and engineering, environmental documentation and right-of-way acquisition accomplished.
“Gov. Deal is a very business-friendly governor,” he said. “Our new mission is enhancing Georgia’s competitiveness through leadership in transportation. The department is committed to doing projects like this. Get it ready, and we will move forward.”
The scope of the Effingham Parkway also may change from being a four-lane, divided highway. A new federal transportation bill spells out how much road funding there will be two years, instead of one year, but the level of funding for the 1st Congressional District won’t support much work beyond the Effingham Parkway for a four-year period, according to Saxon.
“We don’t have the resources to do a $60, $70, $80 million project,” he said. “This project is challenging. We do not have the funding we used to have.”
It may be done in phases or in segments, depending on the money available. Ten years ago, Saxon said, “we built Cadillacs,” meaning if there was a need for a four-lane highway with a divided median, it was built.
“Now we mitigate risk,” he said. “We value-engineer everything we do.”