Interstate 520 Georgia / South Carolina
Known as the Bobby Jones Expressway in Georgia and Palmetto Parkway in South Carolina, Interstate 520 encircles Augusta and North Augusta along a 23-mile loop. Running south from SR 232 and I-20 to Wrightboro Road (Exit 2), the freeway starts out with eight overall lanes separated by a concrete barrier median. Serving a bevy of retail areas and Augusta Mall, this stretch includes a pair of two-lane collector distributor roadways as it .
The freeway carries six lanes south to the six-ramp parclo interchange with U.S. 78 & 278 (Gordon Highway), which along with U.S. 1 (Deans Bridge Road), provides one of two routes connecting I-520 with Fort Gordon to the west. Beyond there, I-520 curves around the south side of Augusta to U.S. 25 and SR 56 .
The remainder of I-520 through Richmond County takes the loop northeast across Phinizy Swamp to industrial areas along the Savannah River at East Augusta. The freeway ended there until 2004, when the first leg of Palmetto Parkway opened northward to Aiken County, South Carolina. Palmetto Parkway weaves through suburban areas of North Augusta along a rural four lane course to Interstate 20 by Mathis Lake.
The designation of Interstate 520 was approved by AASHTO on October 28, 1977 along Bobby Jones Expressway southward from I-20 to New Savannah Road. Previously numbered as Georgia State Route 232, the expressway connected I-20 with U.S. 1 (Dean Bridge Road) by 1975. I-520 appeared the Official Georgia Highway Map first in 1980, when Bobby Jones Expressway was completed east to SR 56 Spur.
A $22.28-million project started on November 1, 1997 both resurfaced and expanded 6.12 miles of Interstate 520 from the Columbia County line, north of I-20, to U.S. 1 (Deans Bridge Road). Work included rehabilitating the concrete roadway, raising six bridges and expanding two other spans among other improvements.1 The six-laning of I-520 coincided with resigning of the freeway in 2000 to use mileage based exit numbering. This included the replacement of all remaining button copy signs and those needing exterior illumination.2
The first of several extensions for Interstate 520 east and north opened on July 31, 1998. A $41-million, five mile section of freeway opened to traffic following a ribbon cutting ceremony. The extension lengthening I-520 east from New Savannah Road (Exit 10) to Sand Bar Ferry Road was approved in February 1989, with work on paving and bridge construction started in 1995.3
With origins dating back to 1971,5 construction on the first phase of Palmetto Parkway kicked off at a ground breaking ceremony held on November 12, 2002.4 The $43-million project extended Interstate 520 northward to U.S. 1-78-278 (Exit 17) in North Augusta, South Carolina. Work culminated at a ribbon cutting ceremony held on the new Savannah River bridge along the parkway on June 22, 2004.5
A unanimous vote by the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank on March 24, 2005 allocated $95 million for the second phase of the Palmetto Parkway.5 When work finally began on January 2, 2007, costs increased to $127 million on six miles of new road, four interchanges and 13 new bridges.6 An additional $18 million was added to the phase as approved in mid January 2008 for widening of Clearwater Road to five lanes, expansion of U.S. 25 to six lanes, the building of a new eight-lane bridge for U.S. 25 above Interstate 20, and the addition of the multi use Palmetto Parkway Trail from Ascauga Lake Road south to S.C. 125 (Atomic Road).7
The Palmetto Parkway portion of Interstate 520 opened two weeks early and $600,000 under budget after a ribbon cutting ceremony held on December 16, 2009. Total costs for both phases of the parkway was $275 million.8
Work at the west end of Interstate 520 took place between 2007 and October 31, 2009 as part of a $191 million upgrade of the former full cloverleaf interchange with Interstate 20 and SR 232. Construction replaced two of the loop ramps at the exchange with flyovers, while widening Bobby Jones Expressway southward with c/d roadways to a reconfigured interchange with Wheeler Road. The work was originally scheduled for completion on July 31, 2010,9 but was formally completed after a ribbon cutting ceremony held on November 12, 2009. Adjacent work expanded I-20 from a point east of Warren Road to the Savannah River.10
Further expansion of Interstate 520 took place between March 2012 and January 2015. Work totaling $33-million added a lane in each direction between U.S. 78 & 278 (Gordon Highway) and U.S. 1 (Deans Bridge Road) while also removing loop ramps at the respective cloverleaf interchanges.11
- East End – North Augusta, SC
- West End – Augusta, GA
Total Mileage – 23.34 (23.61#)
Georgia – 16.14 (15.40*)
Cities – Augusta
- Junctions –
South Carolina – 7.20 (7.99#)
Cities – North Augusta
- Junctions –
I-520 Average Annual Daily Traffic (AADT)
Interstate 20 opened in conjunction with the SR 232 freeway west to SR 383 (Exit 194) and east to SR 28 (Exit 199) in 1967.
SR 28 leading east from Interstate 20 was eventually upgraded to the John C. Calhoun Expressway. Work broke ground on the controlled access route in February 1974 at Greene Street and Milledge Road. The road was built in two phases. The western section opened first eastward to a temporary end at 15th Street. Completion of phase two in the early 1980s took the expressway along an elevated roadway over Augusta Canal to Greene Street ahead of Downtown Augusta.
East End – North Augusta, South Carolina
Traffic separates into single lane ramps for I-20 west back to Augusta and I-20 east for the rural drive to Lexington and Columbia. Photos taken 05/24/19.
I-20 leaves the North Augusta area for a five mile exit less stretch beyond Interstate 520. Photos taken 05/24/19.
Former Eastern Terminus – / Laney-Walker Boulevard – Augusta, Georgia
I-520 (Bobby Jones Expressway) ended at a half diamond interchange (Exit 16) with Laney-Walker Road and SR 28 (Sand Bar Ferry Road) from 1998 to 2004. Photos taken by Chris Patriarca (04/08/03).
Former Eastern Terminus – – North Augusta, South Carolina
West End – Augusta, Georgia
A collector distributor roadway takes drivers to both I-520 east and SR 232 north as the I-20 mainline continues east with three through lanes. Photos taken 05/24/19.
East End Throwback
- “Expressway Set – For Construction.” Augusta Chronicle, The (GA), November 1, 1997.
- “Drivers Will See New Signs – Changed Exit Numbers Will Be Based On Mile Based Markers Instead of Previous Sequential System.” Augusta Chronicle, The (GA), January 11, 2000.
- “Road Ready – Bobby Jones Extension To Open Last Stretch Of Expressway In County Can Be Traveled Friday, Could Bring More Development.” Augusta Chronicle, The (GA), July 29, 1998.
- “Officials Dig In To Road Plan.” Augusta Chronicle, The (GA), November 13, 2002.
- “Parkway Now Open For Business.” Augusta Chronicle, The (GA), June 23, 2004.
- “State Funds Speed Plans.” Augusta Chronicle, The (GA), March 25, 2005.
- “Palmetto Parkway set to be complete by 2009.” Augusta Chronicle, The (GA), May 27, 2007.
- “Added projects to delay process.” Augusta Chronicle, The (GA), January 23, 2008.
- “Parkway eases traffic.” Augusta Chronicle, The (GA), December 23, 2009.
- “Crews aim to finish work – Heavy rain caused delays in road projects.” Augusta Chronicle, The (GA), October 31, 2009.
- “I-20 moment briefly stops traffic – Flyover ramp is site for ribbon-cutting.” Augusta Chronicle, The (GA), November 13, 2009.
- “Bobby Jones Construction Nearing End.” Augusta Chronicle, The (GA), December 27, 2014.
Page updated May 28, 2019.