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Flowery Branch beautifying downtown
Improvements expected to be finished by April 15
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Flowery Branch is about to wrap up some major beautification efforts in the downtown area.

The city had hoped to finish sprucing up Railroad Avenue, a key downtown road, by the end of 2011, but a mix-up over decorative streetlights that would be installed - they came in shorter than expected - delayed completion.

The work now is expected to be finished by April 15, City Manager Bill Andrew told a transportation planning group last week.

"It's going to look good,"
he said.

The streetlights are part of a $250,000 improvement project between Snelling Avenue and Main Street that also involves new sidewalks, which were installed in the fall.

Before the project, a lack of sidewalks posed a problem for the South Hall city, especially at festival time, as people parked in yards and then walked through them on their way to Main Street.

The project also called for new sidewalks on Church Street between Main and Pine streets.

The city is using a state Transportation Enhancement grant to complete the project. The grant required a $50,000 match.

Also, the city is using a $50,000 grant for landscaping along Ga. 13/Atlanta Highway, from Chattahoochee Street south to the city limits near the sewer treatment plant.

Bids came in way under the grant amount, so the city scrambled to find other ways to use as much of the money as possible.

"There's no match required and these aren't tax dollars," Andrew said.

Funding for the grants comes from fees paid by outdoor advertising companies to the Georgia Department of Transportation for vegetation removal at signs, according to the DOT.

DOT "let us put in sod, so we went back and put in 30,000 square feet of sod," Andrew said.

Otherwise, the city is installing about 1,700 plants.

"It's really amazing how much (work) is going on out there," Andrew said, adding that he believes it has changed the look of the area.

The Atlanta Highway work marks the second phase of a landscaping project along a main corridor.

The city received an earlier $50,000 grant from the same billboard fund to complete beautification efforts between Waterstone Crossing subdivision at Vireo Drive and Thurmon Tanner Parkway.

Because of a lack of money, the DOT has stopped accepting applications for additional grant money in the Transportation Enhancement program.

If the state revives the program, the only other place where Flowery Branch could pursue a grant would be at Interstate 985 and Phil Niekro Boulevard/Spout Springs Road, City Planner James Riker has said.

The DOT has sent the city engineering plans for decorative traffic lights at Phil Niekro/Snelling Avenue at Atlanta Highway, Andrew said.

"We were kind of surprised by that," he added.

"Apparently, that's looking to happen early next year, but (the DOT) is going to do utility relocations (sooner). That's going to really enhance the look of that whole corridor."


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