LaFayette officials on Friday said work on the first phase of a streetscape project should get under way by the end of the summer 2008, and they have secured a $250,000 grant to fund phase 2.
“Because these are federal funds, you have to go through a lot of red tape,” City Manager Johnnie Arnold said. “We are finally going to let bids by the end of this summer for a grant we received in 2006. We got the second grant this month and that’s when the tape begins.”
Both grants are through the federal Transportation Enhancement Act, administered by the Georgia Department of Transportation. The program’s goal is to “enrich the transportation experience of Georgians through specific types of enhancements,” according to a statement from Mark McKinnon, with GDOT.
It is the same type of grant that funded downtown improvements in Rossville, where a $1.7 million project is almost complete, and Chickamauga, where the streetscape is to be finished this month.
LaFayette has been ready for the improvements for four years, since Stevenson & Palmer Consulting Engineers drew up blueprints for new sidewalks, park benches, shade trees and other landscaping, Mr. Arnold said. Total cost is estimated at $2.5 million, but work will be done in phases, as the money is awarded, he said.
Phase 1 runs east from the Walker County Courthouse east on East Patten Street, and phase 2 will cover the west side of Patten Street and a couple of blocks of Main Street. The last two phases go to Joe Stock Memorial Park on North Main Street, Mr. Arnold said.
He said the project will be similar to those in Rossville and Chickamauga.
Chickamauga’s project, which cost around $1 million, hit some snags that pushed back the completion date, said John Culpepper, city and utilities manager.
The wait was worth it, though, according to Cindy Hunt, owner of the First General Store Antiques, at 105 Gordon St.
“This is such a great tourist town, and now when people come to visit they will have something beautiful to look at,” Ms. Hunt said.
Her business, located in the oldest brick building in downtown, has a tea room inside, Scarlett’s Tea Room, and a “Frankly, My Dear,” suite upstairs. The room has a balcony where guests can look out over the downtown area, she said.
“It’s going to have a big impact, as far as tourism is concerned,” she said about the streetscape.
LaFayette will match the grant with 15 percent of its own money, and be responsible for putting underground all utilities in the project area, Mr. Arnold said.
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