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Gillsville downtown project slow to get finished
Material, lighting delays have impeded progress
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Gillsville is having to put a little more wait in its long-awaited downtown improvement project.

The project, sprucing up the small strip of busy Ga. 52 on the Hall-Banks County line, was well underway — until lately.

“Delays in getting lighting fixtures and other materials have hampered efforts to get everything completed,” Mayor Larry Poole said.

“To date, we still don’t know when work will continue, but we plan to review the status with the contractor and engineering folks.

“We have been told that the availability of items such as lighting fixtures and sealer for the brick pavers has been an issue,” Poole said.

“This, when combined with some fairly challenging changes and corrections of structures already in place makes the completion process somewhat difficult.”

Despite the delays, “we’re able to move about” the downtown area, the mayor said.

In an earlier interview, Melissa Grizzle, owner of Maw Maw & Paw Paw’s Café, said the heavy sidewalk construction in front of her restaurant hasn’t hurt business.

“We still have decent crowds,” she said.

The project, which has been in the making for several years, calls for installing brick sidewalks and pedestrian lighting on a Ga. 52 stretch in front of the handful of businesses lining the road, generally around Wilson Drive and Bryant Quarter Road.

The sidewalks are much wider than the original concrete ones, covering up what had been a grassy area between the sidewalks and parallel parking spots. The new design creates what Poole has described as a sort of pedestrian “plaza.”

The $250,000 project is being funded as part of Georgia’s old Transportation Enhancement Activities program, which received its money from the federal government.

The city is responsible for 20 percent of the project cost, or $50,000, with the grant providing the other $200,000, Poole said.

The state’s TEA program was in place “to enrich the traveling experience of motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians through enhancements to our transportation system,” according to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Early on, the project had its challenges, requiring “a fair number of adjustments,” Poole has said.

“Things look and work differently on the ground than on paper, we’ve come to find out,” he said.

Some of the work has been inconvenient for merchants, particularly as the old sidewalks were being rebuilt, Poole said.

“They kept plywood boards (as pedestrian ramps) in and out of the buildings,” he said. “... But (workers) were real good about not leaving them where you couldn’t access (businesses) in some form or fashion.”

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