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Oakwood close to starting downtown project
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Oakwood is about to move forward on a $300,000 plan to update its small downtown area with new sidewalks, trees and other landscaping. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

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Listen to Oakwood City Planner Larry Sparks talk about the status of Oakwood’s plans for sprucing up its downtown area.

Oakwood is about to embark on a $200,000 project to dress up its downtown with sidewalks, trees and other eye-pleasing and pedestrian-friendly improvements.

The work is part of a transportation enhancement grant the city received three years ago from the Georgia Department of Transportation and now has been given the department’s blessing to proceed.

The city has opened some construction bids and is working with The Jaeger Co., a Gainesville landscaping and design firm, to analyze the bids, said Larry Sparks, city planner.

A recommendation could be made to Oakwood City Council by its Sept. 14 meeting, he added.

"With all the problems at the DOT, (the process) has been real slow," Sparks said, referring to that department’s financial woes the past couple of years. "But hopefully, (the project) will go pretty quickly once we get the bid awarded. It’s not a real large project."

The Jaeger Co. designed the project, which calls for new sidewalks and other pedestrian fixes, such as crosswalks, on Railroad Street between Main and Allen streets.

The city’s police station and park, which features a swimming pool and community room, is along that stretch.

One side of Railroad Street between Main and Allen is completely vacant except for parking spaces and trees. Railroad tracks run parallel to the roadway.

"The basis of our application was that (the city has) a lot of sidewalks that are deteriorating, uneven and where tree roots have grown into them," Sparks said. "We’ve even got some areas that don’t have some sidewalks."

The city has been approved for another transportation grant, totaling $100,000, to expand further on the sidewalk project.

"That project hasn’t been designed or anything, but what we think is ... we’ll continue up Allen Street from the city park for some distance," Sparks said, "and there is one section there where there are no sidewalks."

Oakwood’s neighbor, Flowery Branch, also is moving forward with a $250,000 transportation grant to help spruce up its downtown.

Earlier this month, City Council voted to pay Norfolk Southern Railway Co. $5,000 for use of property along Railroad Avenue toward the project.

The city plans to complete a sidewalk from Snelling Avenue to the planned Old Town Flowery Branch development north of Main Street.

Also planned are completion of a sidewalk and parallel parking spaces along the west side of Church Street from Main Street to Pine Street and new landscaping, benches and pedestrian lighting.

"We’re still working through the review process with DOT, and they have a very lengthy checklist you have to go through," said James Riker, city planner. "... We feel certain that we’ll be getting approval in the near future."

Design work on the project is almost finished, he added.

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