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Posted April 10, 2019, 3:53 pm
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Augusta National project will build tunnel under Washington Road

  • Article Photos
    Photos description

    This pedestrian tunnel opened prior to the start of the 2016 Masters Tournament. Augusta National Golf Club-affiliated entities were recently approved to build a tunnel under Washington Road. [FILE/STAFF]

  • Article Photos
    Photos description

    Recently approved plans included in a permit application show the tunnel running under Washington Road by West Vineland Road. [SPECIAL]

Augusta National will build a tunnel near Gate 1 of the club, leading to a new state-of-the-art television and digital compound on the north side of Washington Road.

Fred Ridley, the chairman of the club and the Masters Tournament, announced the construction project at his State of the Masters address Wednesday. The complex is called the Global Broadcast Village.

Photos: Wednesday at the Masters

“With the much appreciated support of the city of Augusta and the state of Georgia, this summer we will begin a multi-year development of a portion of our property north of Washington Road,” Ridley said. “Site work already is underway, and in a matter of weeks, we will commence construction of a tunnel connecting an area near Gate 1 to new development on the north side of the road. This project is the first of its kind in the state of Georgia. Thanks to modern engineering, we will be able to excavate under Washington Road without any impact to the flow of traffic above.”

A permit application sheds light on the plans.

Filed on behalf of Berckman Residential Properties LLC and Big Tree LLC in February, the application for a special encroachment on a state route was approved March 18 by a district Georgia Department of Transportation engineer. The approval means work must begin within 90 days, according to the department.

The “Washington Road Underpass Project” will connect land held by the two entities with a 120-foot-long concrete tunnel under Washington Road just west of the West Vineland Road intersection, according to the application.

A “jacked-box underpass system” will be used, meaning hydraulic jacks will push or pull a pre-constructed concrete box, 31 feet wide and 21 feet high, under the road as soil is simultaneously excavated to make room, it stated.

A sketch shows a two-lane road going through the tunnel, which will sit about 10 feet beneath Washington Road. The interior of the tunnel is 26 feet wide and 16 feet high.

Augusta Traffic Engineer John Ussery said the project will not require closing Washington Road, which averages around 25,000 vehicles daily and more than 55,000 per day during the Masters Tournament.

“What’s neat about this project is that it is not going to interrupt traffic on Washington Road,” Ussery said recently.

The project will require the relocation of a 60-inch water line and the creation of a drainage system that will keep the tunnel dry.

Berckman Residential Properties has acquired numerous residential lots surrounding the golf club in recent years, including some now used for patron parking along Berckmans Road. The golf club helped the city realign Berckmans to connect with Alexander Drive, and the project also included three pedestrian tunnels that opened in 2016.

Across Washington Road, Big Tree LLC now owns the former Big Tree shopping center and surrounding lands, much of which is currently used for tournament staff parking.

Ridley said the Global Broadcast Village will help Augusta National expand tournament services in the future.

“It will greatly improve the environment and services for those who, along with you, help tell the story of the Masters,” he said. “And through our ability to adapt and expand this facility, it will serve us well as we deliver quality content to our fans anywhere, any time.”

Staff writer Mike Wynn contributed to this article.