Oakwood is well under way with a downtown improvements project city officials hope will serve as a taste of things to come under its ambitious 2030 plan.
Railroad Street is closed to through traffic between Main and Allen streets, as workers move ahead with a $127,400 project to add new sidewalks, a new storm drainage system, curbs and gutters.
Signs detour traffic around the construction area using Academy Street, which features a sharp right turn from Allen Street and a way into Oakwood Elementary School.
Motorists and pedestrians can expect the inconvenience until the project’s estimated completion in mid-April.
The section of Railroad Street being fixed features entrances to some of the city’s busiest operations, including the police department, city park (including a summer-season swimming pool) and two community buildings.
Also, the stretch includes most of the city’s downtown paved parking spots. Railroad tracks run parallel to the road.
The road now is dug up in several places with scattered orange barrels and cones, construction equipment and concrete pipes.
“We’re trying to use (project) this as an opportunity to get our project management skills and traffic-control skills honed up a little bit, because this is the first of many projects we’ll have in downtown Oakwood as we implement our 2030 (plan),” City Manager Stan Brown told City Council last week.
“This is intended to be a demonstration of what we think our Oakwood 2030 could look like,” so for Public Works supervisor Jason Spencer, “this is a good baptism for him,” Brown added.
The 2030 plan, launched in October 2008, affects some 250-plus acres around the city center, including Thurmon Tanner Parkway’s final leg, which is under construction.
The public-private effort foresees construction of multiuse and commercial buildings on large chunks of now-vacant land throughout the city, as well as redevelopment of other, older parts of town.
A transportation enhancement grant the city received more than three years ago from the Georgia Department of Transportation is paying for the Railroad Street work.
The city voted in September to award a construction contract. Inclement weather has delayed the start of the project, Brown said.
“It’s a good thing it started when it did because there was a sinkhole (in the area) you could put a truck in,” Mayor Lamar Scroggs said.
The city is looking at holding a ribbon-cutting ceremony when the project is finished, Brown said.
The event could take place in a community building at the corner of Railroad and Allen streets.
“We have taken this as an opportunity to remodel (the building),” Brown said. “We expect that to be completed by the end of March. ... I think you’ll be very pleased with the way that building is going to look.”
The city has been approved for another transportation grant, totaling $100,000, to do further improvements.
An architect is working on designs for that work, which would entail completing sidewalks to Oakwood Road, tying into a series of sidewalks leading to Thurmon Tanner, said City Planner Larry Sparks.
“Also, we have a request in to the DOT to adjust our budget and let us put in some street lights (there),” he said.