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Oakwood project needs $500,000 for improvement
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Oakwood is trying to knit together as much as $500,000 to complete a downtown improvement project that would feature new sidewalks, ornamental lighting, benches, brick crosswalks and landscaping.

The city already has $100,000 in hand, thanks to an earlier Georgia Department of Transportation Enhancement grant and is planning to seek another $350,000 to $400,000 for the project, City Manager Stan Brown said earlier this week.

The state is accepting applications for the grant money starting Friday and ending Dec. 15.

The Transportation Enhancement program helps pay for "multiuse facilities," such as walking and biking trails and paths, street improvements and landscaping projects, historic preservation of transportation-related structures (such as railroad depots) and preservation of scenic byways.

"These projects enhance communities and improve quality of life for all Georgians," said State Transportation Board Chairman Rudy Bowen.

The federally funded program was established in 1991 by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act.

Oakwood won an earlier grant to improve Railroad Street from Main to Allen streets. That $127,400 project, which also included a new storm drainage system, curbs and gutters, was completed earlier this year.

The city had sought $350,000 to improve Main Street from Railroad to Academy streets, with City Hall sitting at one end and Oakwood Elementary School at the other.

The state ended up awarding the city $100,000.

"By the time you do all the grant administration, engineering and (meeting) all the environmental requirements that go along with (the project), we were probably going to see 30 to 40 percent of that spent in administrative costs," Brown said.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out you can't do the full work."

The city had to scale back the project to improving Main Street from Railroad Street to Oakwood Road.

The project could be restored by getting the additional money, plus the city hopes to spend some money on additional improvements to Railroad Street between Main and Allen - ornamental street lights, more benches and trash cans, and new fencing.

The city's focus throughout the project will be to ensure new sidewalks are built on Main between Railroad and Oakwood Road.

"We have sidewalks there that will connect back to the new Thurmon Tanner Parkway," Brown said. "That'll be a good linkage of sidewalks between Thurmon Tanner and the downtown."

The last section of Thurmon Tanner, running between Plainview and Mundy Mill roads, is expected to be completed by Dec. 31. When completed, the entire Thurmon Tanner will run from Atlanta Highway at Exit 17 and Interstate 985 to Phil Niekro Boulevard in Flowery Branch.

Brown said he hopes the city will hear about the grant application in early 2011.

If approved, the project could take a while to get completed.

With the first phase along Railroad Street, "we got it designed pretty quickly," Brown said. "It just takes a long time to get (a project) through the review process with the DOT."


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