Gillsville is hoping it can finally launch a downtown transportation improvements plan featuring new sidewalks and pedestrian lighting along busy Ga. 52.
The city has put the project out for bids, and will accept proposals through Oct. 2.
“Assuming we receive a bid that we can work with, I think the project may get going around late October or early November,” Mayor Larry Poole said. “I just hope the winter will be on the mild side.”
Poole has said he hopes the project will “significantly improve both the appearance and functionality of our downtown buildings.”
The work calls for putting in sidewalks and pedestrian lighting on a Ga. 52 stretch extending about 318 feet west of Wilson Drive and 410 feet east of Bryant Quarter Road.
“We will be refurbishing our little downtown to something of a plaza front with brick pavers, lighting and some landscape features,” Poole said.
The work also will improve accessibility under the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.
“We will be ... improving the overall safety, I think, for those who visit our town,” Poole said.
The project is being funded as part of Georgia’s old Transportation Enhancement Activities program, which has received money from the federal government.
The program had been in place “to enrich the traveling experience of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians through enhancements to our transportation system,” states the Georgia Department of Transportation website.
“Federal funding ... is allotted to provide aesthetic and functional improvements to historical, natural and scenic areas.”
The federal Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, a transportation spending bill set to expire Sept. 30, replaced Transportation Enhancement Activities with the Transportation Alternatives Program.
“It’s not unusual for (TE projects) to drag on for quite a while, as they include substantial overhead with all the design and approval processes, as well as uncertainty of when funds will be available,” Poole said.
Area officials used to gripe about red tape and delays in getting money for TE projects, with Oakwood, at one point, rejecting a $100,000 grant designated for downtown improvements.
Lula has decided to skip over a phase approved for TE money in an ongoing effort to spruce up its downtown.
“We’re doing phase three and we aren’t asking for any more money because we can’t afford to,” City Manager Dennis Bergin said in August. “The price of everything keeps going up.”