For five months, motorists on Washington Road in Evans have watched a new Wal-Mart Supercenter progress brick by brick.
Today they'll finally get to see what the finished product looks like on the inside.
"Not every grand opening is quite this eventful," said Jackie Braun, a public relations representative for Wal-Mart. "This one will have a lot of things involved."
The 208,000-square-foot store opens at 8 a.m. today with a special ceremony, which will include Wal-Mart officials making several donations to the community.
Braun said the ceremony will last about an hour. After that, the shopping will begin.
The grand opening will include appearances by this year's Miss Columbia County and the mascot for the Augusta Lynx. Also at the ceremony will be the Coca-Cola NASCAR Show Center - which will feature Dale Earnhardt's No. 3 car - a Coca-Cola Family Run Zone, a Pepsi Challenge event and a performance by the Greenbrier High School cheerleaders.
Amounts being contributed in the Evans area by Wal-Mart include $1,000 to the United Way, $1,000 to Gibbs Library, $1,000 to Riverside Middle School, $1,000 to the Children's Miracle Network, $1,000 to Greenbrier High and $500 to Stevens Creek Elementary.
"This (Wal-Mart) is actually contributing a pretty significant amount," Braun said. "That shows a lot of very good things for the community around it."
Early on, though, plans for the store drew protests from nearby residents who felt it was inconsistent with the constraints of the Evans Town Center concept, which is designed to create a community identity in Evans by way of controlled growth.
Still, store officials say they've gone beyond the town center's requirements, doubling what was required on landscaping.
The main concern now for county officials is the traffic the store most likely will bring.
Kevin Lear, director of construction and maintenance for Columbia County Roads and Bridges, said his department will be keeping a close eye on traffic near the Wal-Mart entrance.
"We do expect a lot of traffic, and we're anticipating maybe some problems," he said.
He said a new traffic light installed about two months ago at the intersection of Washington Road and the store's parking lot should help.
"We hope that will take care of it," he said. "And we'll be monitoring that situation very closely to see how the adjacent roads and streets are affected by this, and we'll take action accordingly."
The store will be open 24 hours a day and will have a grocery, pharmacy, hair salon, nail salon, portrait studio, McDonald's, embroidery shop and candy boutique.
A strip center with 10 stores will sit adjacent to the Wal-Mart.
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.