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Flowery Branch making more downtown improvements
Streetlights, sidewalks and more are being added
Crews break apart asphalt and haul it away as they prepare the edge of Railroad Street for a new sidewalk with streetlights in Flowery Branch Tuesday morning. Church Street, one block away, is getting the same treatment.

More than three years after its last improvement project, Flowery Branch is again sprucing up downtown.

The South Hall city started this week on a $250,000 effort to add streetlights, sidewalks and other touches to Railroad Avenue between Snelling Avenue and Main Street and Church Street between Main and Pine streets.

Crews have been busy at work, said City Planner James Riker.

“They’ve indicated they wouldn’t be too long doing the project once they got started,” he said.

The streetlights “can take as long as 60 days to get ordered, shipped and received,” Riker said. “I would think it would be around that time — 60 days — they’d be able to wrap up (the project).”

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

The project “is not nearly as invasive as the last (effort),” which involved putting in underground utilities and closing down Main Street.

“Traffic is going to remain open the whole time,” Riker said. “Obviously, people need to be aware of (traffic) cones and things like that.”

In the first “streetscaping” project, finished in February 2008, the city focused on landscaping, widening sidewalks and adding streetlights and benches on Main Street between Railroad and Church.

That work, financed largely by a previous Georgia Department of Transportation grant, ended up costing about $488,000.

The city has done some work preparing for the Railroad Avenue project, moving overhead utilities so they don’t span the street. Also, it has installed a new, larger water line and fire hydrants along the street.

Eventually, Riker has said, the city may consider placing banners on the light poles welcoming visitors to the historic downtown.

With the completion of the Railroad Avenue project, residents will have a network of sidewalks winding through downtown.

One of the major issues for the city was, with the lack of sidewalks along Railroad, people parked their cars and walked through yards during busy festivals.

Jerry Crow of Jerry Crow Realty, which sits off Railroad near Snelling, said he has seen people pull their cars right up to the front of his 1880s-era home, narrowly missing the water meter.

Crow has said he is looking forward to the project getting under way.

“It should give a good impression,” he said. “... It will (add) a nice ambience to the city.”