2006-09-27 / Front Page

SRP update given to Rotary clubs

By Deborah Bennett Millen News Editor

Mike Thomas, district engineer for the Department of Transportation in Tennille, was the guest speaker at the Wednesday, Sept. 20, joint meeting of the Millen and Waynesboro Rotary clubs. (Staff photos by Deborah Bennett) Mike Thomas, district engineer for the Department of Transportation in Tennille, was the guest speaker at the Wednesday, Sept. 20, joint meeting of the Millen and Waynesboro Rotary clubs. (Staff photos by Deborah Bennett) Though it has been a long time coming, completion of the Savannah River Parkway (SRP) may finally be in sight.

"All SRP projects currently under construction should be completed by Christmas 2007," said Mike Thomas, district engineer for the Department of Transportation in Tennille.

Thomas' remarks were made during a joint meeting of the Millen and Waynesboro Rotary clubs held at the Millen Community House Wednesday, Sept. 20.

Conceived in 1989 as part of the Governor's Road Improvement Projects, the SRP is approximately 156 miles and will connect Savannah and Augusta via two legs with Millen as the connection point of both legs. Currently, 150 miles of the highway are open or under construction.

The only section of the SRP not currently under construction is the section in Jenkins County that runs from the intersection of U.S. Highway 25 South and State Route 121 (Woodpecker Trail) north to the Millen Bypass. This section is scheduled to be let for bidding next spring. Once construction begins, completion of the project should occur within 18-24 months, said Thomas.

Members of the Millen and Waynesboro Rotary clubs enjoy lunch and a presentation on the Savannah River Parkway. Members of the Millen and Waynesboro Rotary clubs enjoy lunch and a presentation on the Savannah River Parkway. Thomas called attention to special precautions that have been taken at Magnolia Springs State Park to protect the springs and Fort Lawton historical site. These include setting seismographs to monitor the level of construction disturbance and using the existing culverts for new bridges.

He also noted that a colony of Wood Storks discovered on the Millen Bypass during the environmental study for the project is the number one rookery in the United States for the endangered species.

"So we built a 'stork resort' out there," he remarked, noting that the orange balls on the power lines in the area are to keep the Wood Storks from flying into them.

Thomas also called attention to the rising costs of materials for the project. Class A concrete has risen in price from $450 per cubic yard in 2005 to $900 per cubic yard in 2006. Asphalt has risen from $55 per ton to $100 per ton.

A contributing factor to the increases is the fact that China has vowed to complete construction of its interstate highways in seven years and is "sucking up all the cement," he said.

"We had plenty of money, but now our buying power is being cut down," Thomas commented.

He also explained that some changes in the location of the roads and grading of hills have been necessary in order to meet federal guidelines.

"Most projects are a 90/10 percent federal/state match. The state couldn't do much on its own. So, we have to be very careful that we are complying with federal guidelines," he said.

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