City of Augusta | Augusta, GA
Merrick & Company provided a feasibility study and master plan for the Savannah River in August, GA. The project began with multi-day stakeholder meetings, site analysis, literature review and evaluation of the existing New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam Park. In addition, the team participated in a site visit to Columbus, Georgia with the Augusta Commissioners, the Savannah River Keeper, Uptown Columbus and representatives from Economic Development. The purpose of the site visit was to see firsthand the social and economic benefits of creating a whitewater venue that served as an anchor for recreational-focused activity.
Merrick developed in-river alternatives for flood control and maintaining the existing pool elevation when the existing lock and dam is removed. We also provided a feasibility study and concepts for the creation of whitewater components in the river. As part of the study, our team evaluated the larger river system for in-river connections, pedestrian trails, river access, activity centers and how to connect them along the river corridor.
The project required coordination with the City of Augusta, City of North Augusta, the Savannah River Keeper, USACE, NOAA, the Georgia Port Authority and specialty fish experts. Our team worked with the fish specialist to determine passage and spawning habits of Atlantic sturgeon.
The end result of this project was the production of a River Vision Plan that described opportunities
to open a 36-mile corridor along the river that would reconnect the City of Augusta with the Savannah River. The plan identified new areas of connectivity to the river, highlighted opportunities for enhanced recreation, both in and adjacent to the river, and provided connections to existing businesses downtown. In addition, we provided economic analysis for the effects of the River Vision Plan and its benefits of improving the quality of life for the residents and visitors through new ways of recreation, socializing and entertainment.
UNIQUE PROJECT FEATURE: By law USACE was required to remove the existing lock and dam. Their proposed solution required the destruction of the adjacent New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam Park. USACE argued that their models demonstrated that the park had to be removed to provide flood control in order to maintain the existing pool elevation established by the dam. The park has historical significance and is a vital recreational asset for Augusta residents and a future hub for two greenways. Merrick provided a comprehensive response to the USACE proposal that included alternative solutions to removing the lock and dam, a rebuttal of their water elevation model and a River Vision Plan that established a regional recreation corridor that culminated at the park. The River Vision Plan demonstrated a regional impact, complete with economic analysis, if USACE removed the park. This also allowed the City of Augusta to set a precedent for future interaction with USACE on future dam projects that would follow.