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Jefferson Streetscape grinds to a halt
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JEFFERSON — Progress can sometimes be slow, but when it comes to the downtown Jefferson Streetscape project, visual progress has been nearly nonexistent.

In 2006, work on the project started behind the scenes — preliminary engineering studies were done, a design firm was selected and multiple public meetings were held.

Officials hoped that construction on the project would have started in February 2009, but that time came and went and sights were reset on September, another deadline that passed by without any dirt being turned.

"We finished up the right-of-way acquisitions in November. They were essentially construction easements," said John Ward, Jefferson city manager.

"We then had to submit the acquisitions to the Georgia Department of Transportation to be certified and that took about a month."

During a recent voting session, the Jefferson City Council executed a resolution authorizing Ward to act on the city’s behalf to enter into a contract for federal funding for the project. The contract must be reviewed by DOT before the department gives the city the green light to proceed with soliciting construction bids.

"Once we receive the bids we will evaluate them and choose the most appropriate one," Ward said. "Once we select the appropriate bid, we have to submit it to the Department of Transportation for approval and certification. Once they approve it, they will give us the notice to proceed with the project."

Ward anticipates the city receiving the notice to proceed with construction bids for the project by "mid-January."

The project is expected to cost $625,000, with $500,000 of the cost being covered by federal funds and the city contributing $125,000.

Plans for the project include replacing existing lighting with wrought-iron styled light poles, adding more plantings and expanding sidewalks. The goal of the streetscape is to redesign downtown to regain some of its mid 1800s historic charm.

The project will be centered around the intersection of Washington, Sycamore and Lee streets — the heart of downtown Jefferson. However, the project will extend down Sycamore and Lee streets as funding permits.