Veterans Parkway is six-mile long parkway was intended to improve access to the city's southwestern residential areas and to bypass a congested commercial boulevard on the City's periphery.
Project Type:Interchange Project Mode:Highway Average Annual Daily Traffic:18,600 Length (mi):6.00
Economic Distress:0.87 Population Density (ppl/sq mi):557 Population Growth Rate (%):0.89
Employment Growth Rate (%):2.64 Market Size:139,252 Airport Travel Distance:16 Topography:1
Region:Southeast State:GA County:Chatham
City:Savannah Urban/Class Level:Metro Local Area:Savannah
Impact Area:County Transportation System:Highway GIS Lat/Long:32.029353 / -81.168838
Initial Study Date:1999 Post Constr. Study Date:2006
Constr. Start Date:2000 Constr. End Date:2002
Project Year of Expenditure (YOE): 2002 Planned Cost (YOE $):N/A
Actual Cost (YOE $):29,500,000 Actual Cost (curr $):35,305,384
NOTE: All pre/post dollar values are in 2013$
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NOTE: All impact dollar values are in 2013$
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Veterans Parkway was completed in 2002 at a cost of $30 million. The six-mile long parkway was intended to improve access to the city's southwestern residential areas and to bypass a congested commercial boulevard on the City's periphery. The project's main benefits so far are in transportation time-savings. It has not yet had a discernible impact on land use or economic development. But a new 1000-acre business park on a site just off the Parkway is in the planning stages that could produce a significant number of new new jobs.
2.1 Location & Transportation Connections
The city of Savannah is at the junction of I-95 and I-16. Interstate 95 (I-95) stretches 500 miles (8 hours) south of Savannah to Miami and north to Houlton Maine at the Canadian Border (1450 miles, 24 hours). Interstate I-16 stretches 170 miles (3 hours) northwest to Macon, GA, terminating in downtown Savannah at its eastern axis.
Veterans Parkway is located in Savannah, in Southeastern Georgia on the Atlantic Seaboard. Veterans Parkway connects I-516 to SR 204 (also known as Abercorn Street) west of Hunter Army Airfield, improving access from the city center and from Savannah's industrial areas for residents of the city and of the suburban neighborhoods southwest of central Savannah. The new parkway cut 4.5 miles (10 minutes) off the journey from central Savannah to points in the southwestern metro area, including the burgeoning city of Richmond Hill.
I-516, at the northern end of Veteran's Parkway, is an urban perimeter highway connecting the Southside of Savannah, with the industrialized port area of the city to the north. The Abercorn Expressway (SR 204), which was bypassed by Veteran's Parkway, is the primary traffic and commercial artery linking downtown, midtown and Southside of the city.
Savannah/Hilton Head International Airport is 15 miles north of the Veteran's Parkway on I-95. This serves the North Carolina coastal resorts as well as Savannah and the Georgia coast. Scheduled service is provided by Delta, Continental Express, United Express, and U.S. Airways. , Amtrak operates a passenger terminal at Savannah for the Palmetto and Silver Service trains running between New York City and Miami, Florida.
Much of Savannah's economy is centered around the Port of Savannah. In 2008, Savannah was the nation's fifth largest port in terms of volume of container trade (TEU's). Between 2000 and 2005, the Port of Savannah was the nation's fastest growing seaport with a compounded annual growth rate of 16.5 percent, compared to the national average is 9.7 % during this period. . The Port of Savannah provides services to North Europe and, Middle-East via the Suez Canal, and Asia via Suez or the Panama Canal. The Port is serviced by two Class 1 rail services: CSX Transportation and Norfolk Southern Railroad, who distribute imported goods throughout the Southern States.
2.2 Community Character & Project Context
Chartered in 1732, Savannah was first settled by English debtors working under General James Oglethorpe. The public gracious squares, grid street pattern, and grand oak trees in downtown Savannah are artifacts from the first planned city in the now-United States. The climate and soil around Savannah were conducive to cotton and rice farming and the port's access to the Savannah River and the Atlantic Ocean led the city to flourish with trade. World cotton prices were set at the Savannah Cotton Exchange (which still exists today).
After the Civil War, Savannah diversified into other forms of agriculture and developed a strong manufacturing industry. The Union Camp Corporation operated its largest pulp and paper mill in Savannah; this mill was acquired by International Paper in 1999 and is still a major employer. The Gulfstream Aerospace Corporation is based in Savannah.
In 2008, Savannah's population was estimated to be 132,410, an increase of 0.7 % since 2000. The city's population is predominately African American (58%) and is older than state and national averages. Although unemployment declined from 4.5 percent to 3 percent from 2000 to 2008, twice as many families are under the poverty level in Savannah vis-a-vis the rest of the nation.
Tourism, fed partly by the North Carolina and Georgia coastal resorts, is a vital growth sector of Savannah's economy. Savannah attracts millions of visitors from the country and around the world. Its downtown area is one of the largest national historic landmark districts in the U.S. The city's location offers visitors access to the coastal islands and the Savannah Riverfront, both popular tourist destinations Tybee Island, formerly known as "Savannah Beach", is the site of the Tybee Island Light Station the lighthouse on the southern Atlantic coast. In 2006, the Savannah's Area Convention and Visitors Bureau reported over 6.85 million visitors to the city, generating over $2 billion in visitor spending and more than 17,000 jobs.
Savannah is the fifth largest port in the US. Warehousing/distribution activities are growing in tandem with Port activities. Target Corporation, IKEA, and Heineken have major national import distribution centers at the Savannah River International Trade Park.
The military has a significant presence, both in the city and within the Veteran's Parkway project area. Hunter Army Airfield, immediately to the east of Veteran's Parkway, covers 5,370 acres. With the Army's longest runway (11,375 feet long), the airfield can accommodate any aircraft in the U.S. air fleet.. From here, troops can easily deploy by air or by sea. A sub-installation of Fort Stewart (located 45 miles southwest), Hunter Airfield is regarded as the Army's premiere "power projection platform" with its 11,375 foot long runway which can accommodate any aircraft, its proximity to the deep water port of Savannah, and its extensive road and rail networks.
Veterans Parkway is a 10-mile freeway between SR 204 (Abercorn Street Extension) and I- 516 (W.F. Lynes Parkway) southwest of Savannah. The four-lane freeway provides a bypass route of the commercialized Abercorn Street for travelers entering the metropolitan area from Richmond Hill to the southwest Savannah. Construction of the Parkway began in March of 2000. and was completed by October, 2002 at a cost of $29.5 million (2002$). Construction of the freeway included a freeway, an interchange and widening of the approach to connect SR 204.
As well as facilitating access to the southwest, the project was intended to reduce traffic congestion in the southeast by diverting traffic from Abercorn Street, a heavily trafficked commercial strip lined with hotels, shopping malls, and box retail outlets. Consequently, Veteran's Parkway has cut 4.5 miles (12 minutes) off the trips from downtown and north Savannah to its southwestern residential enclaves. In 2005, AADT on the Parkway and Abercorn Street were estimated to be 18,600 and 37,600 respectively.
4.1 Transportation Impacts
Construction of Veterans Parkway has increased capacity and has improved the level of service on the roadway in Savannah. Consequently, it is estimated that Veterans Parkway saves motorists between 10-15 minutes of drive time during the peak hours. Based on the AADT of 18,600, Veterans Parkway saves drivers between 3000 and 4500 hours every day.
4.2 Demographic, Economic & Land Use Impacts
To date, the Parkway's benefits have been confined to transportation time-savings. Recently, however, Rockingham Development Group has started to develop plans for a new business park on a 1,050 acre site north of Hunter Army Airfield near the intersection of Backhalter Road and Veterans Parkway. A new interchange is planned for Veterans Parkway at Backhalter Road to facilitate access to this site and to handle high volumes of future traffic projected for the business park. This project is projected to be built-out by 2018.
Although, there are parcels of land close to the Hunter Army Airfield, located to the east of veterans Parkway, that can be developed, aviation operations of the Airfield (including noise from aircrafts) makes the land unsuitable for housing development. Consequently, Veterans Parkway has not stimulated any housing development close to it. Most of the land west of the Parkway is marshy and is unsuitable for development.
Savannah Economic Development Authority
This case study was developed by Cambridge Systematics.