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Oakwood steps up on sidewalks
Oakwood is gearing up to start the first phase of a two-phase, $300,000 project to build sidewalks or replace crumpled ones in the downtown area. The sidewalks are supposed to run through Railroad Avenue and up Main Street, possibly as far as to Oakwood Elementary. Money for the project is coming from a federal transportation program.


Oakwood planning director Larry Sparks talks about the need for new sidewalks in the downtown area.

The concrete is cracking and grass is filling in the open spaces on Oakwood’s sidewalks lining one side of Railroad Street between Main and Oak streets.

The city hopes to remove that eyesore in the coming months as part of a $200,000 project to replace aging and crumbling walkways along those two city blocks.

Also, Oakwood City Council voted Monday to contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation for $100,000 to replace sidewalks up Main Street from Railroad Street to possibly Academy Street, near Oakwood Elementary School.

The work also involves beautification, such as landscaping, pedestrian benches and some themed street lighting.

"The sidewalks in place in the city are old (and) broken," said planning director Larry Sparks. "So, (the project) is to improve what’s there (and) to add sidewalks where there are no sidewalks."

He noted the particular absence of sidewalks connecting the school to downtown.

"Classes come down here to the park, to the pool and educational (programs) the police department does," Sparks said. "It’s really a safety issue. They need a safe place to walk."

Sidewalks now run on Main Street from Railroad Street to Oakwood Road, where an office building and Oakwood Church of God are located. There are no sidewalks on Main from Oakwood Road to Academy Street, where Oakwood Elementary sits.

"I am pleased that the city of Oakwood is considering a step that will increase safety for the children of our community, especially after school hours," said Karla L. Swafford, the school’s principal. "Many of our students utilize the park and pool after school and during the summer as weather permits."

Swafford said that the students "are all transported by school bus or by parents" away from the school.

Also, the new sidewalks will be built to meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards, Sparks said.

The city’s downtown area comprises only a few blocks and mainly consists of homes and governmental buildings, such as City Hall, the police department, public works, a park with a pool operated by the YMCA and a community center.

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

Sparks said he expects the first phase of the project to start in a couple of months and take six to eight months to complete.

"We’re getting ready to go to bids," Sparks said. "Our concept plan has been approved by DOT."

In phase two, "we have to go to DOT to get our concept plan approved," he said.

That project will take a couple of years to be completed, Sparks said.

"We applied for more funding than we actually got, but a lot of communities didn’t get anything, so we’re lucky to get what we did," Sparks said.

Oakwood sought the funding under the federal Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.

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