Flowery Branch is hoping to increase the walkability around downtown, especially with an expected housing boom in the area.
The South Hall city is looking to develop a multi-use path from Thurmon Tanner Parkway to Flowery Branch City Park off Lake Lanier.
The trail, accommodating both bicyclists and pedestrians, would be 10-12 feet in width and run 1.45 miles along East Main, Mulberry, Spring, Church, Main and Mitchell streets.
“The Norfolk Southern railroad crossing on Spring Street will also require pedestrian improvements to make it safe to cross,” states a Flowery Branch application for state funding help. “Where right of way allows, particularly on Main Street, trees and street lights will be added.”
The project also would require a bridge on East Main crossing Flowery Branch Creek.
The potential trail also would tie into a small park, or parklet, planned at the roundabout on Lights Ferry Road at Mitchell.
“This also folds into our earlier study of (improvements to) Mitchell Street,” City Manager Bill Andrew said. “We had a study looking at bike/pedestrian (travel), stormwater and road improvements on Mitchell that would better connect downtown to Lake Lanier and the park.”
Meanwhile, hundreds of homes are under construction, planned or have been approved this year around the downtown area, including on East Main Street and off Gainesville Street and McEver Road.
Also, Flowery Branch is looking at possible redevelopment of city-owned property on Main Street, as well as future development on newly opened Pine Street, where the City Hall that opened earlier this year is located.
The trails project is estimated to cost $5.6 million, with the city seeking nearly $4.5 million from the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program. The minimum amount the city could seek is $1 million.
The city’s matching amount would be $1.1 million, which would come from general funds and the city’s tax allocation district, or TAD, revenues.
Under Georgia law, cities are allowed to designate certain “blighted” areas as TADs, using property tax increments resulting from new growth on public projects to help attract growth and increase the increments.
By law, the money can be used for public utilities improvements, such as stormwater systems.
Flowery Branch’s proposed trail would travel through most of the downtown TAD. The boundary is near the roundabout.
“We may not be awarded all these funds, and the city is not committing itself necessarily to spending this money, at this point,” Andrew said during a recent Flowery Branch City Council meeting. … This is all still very fluid.”