Soft opening planned for Fifth Street pedestrian bridge this weekend

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) – After months of waiting, you’ll finally get the chance to walk across the Fifth Street bridge this weekend.

The city plans to remove the gates for the first time. It’s to give the people participating in or watching the Ironman tournament a chance to enjoy the environment.

Business owners here say having people on the bridge will be a big boost.

“That gives us exposure. It tells the community that we’re here,” said Greg LaBelle.

He has owned Two Dudes and a Boat Kayak Rentals since 2020.

“When we first came down here, we learned the Fifth Street bridge is being converted into a pedestrian bridge and that in itself was exciting,” he said. “We’re thinking ‘the end of 2021, well that’s perfect. We’ll be going into 2022 when the season starts with it open’.”

But that summer passed, as gates still blocked the entrance to the bridge.

“It’s still kind of in limbo, so hopefully, we have a bridge here in the next few weeks,” he said.

It comes as thousands of people take to the water for Ironman.

“Those two things mixed are basically going to be like another kickstart to Two Dudes,” said LaBelle. “It’ll be able to you know provide the exposure that we need to get to the next level.”

The opening is not permanent, but LaBelle says he is looking forward to when those gates come down for good.

“We have been anticipating a grand opening now for quite a while,” he said. “The impact that the bridge is going to have on our business specifically, is we’re going to double our business starting day one of it being open,” he said.

The city says they’re hoping to open the bridge full time and have a ribbon cutting by the end of October.

Labelle says more than just expanding business, they’re also hoping it encourages people to come downtown and explore the river.

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