Monday, December 3, 2007

Watkinsville Gets Funds for Streetscape II

We received official word today that Watkinsville has been awarded $442,000 to extend its streetscape project towards OCAF, Rocket Field and the Board of Education and along Highway 15. This new effort will likely include new street trees, landscaping, street lamps, and sidewalks in these areas. Along Highway 15, the improvements will run from Barnett Shoals Rd. to Depot Street (in front of Krimson, Athens Seed, etc.)

This is huge news for our little city, as the funds are equal to roughly 1/3 of our annual budget. As visitors to Watkinsville know, our last round of streetscape improvements -- completed last spring -- made a tremendous impact on the beauty and walkability of the city, and were on full display at Saturday's highly successful Christmas Parade. The map below shows the completed Phase I area and what is proposed for phase II.

Most of these funds are federal dollars (distributed by the state) that require a match from the city. Many thanks to State Rep. Bob Smith and State Sen. Bill Cowsert for their support and tireless advocacy on our behalf. Thanks also to the Jaeger Co. for their technical assistance on the plans, and for the images shared here.

Before and after renderings of Rocket Field are followed by similar renderings showing the area in front of the Krimson Cafe. These will be very nice changes for these areas.

Athens and UGA also got $440,000 for the extension of the Greenway. This is exciting news, as an extended Greenway will do nothing but increase use, especially with a closer link to the residential areas of campus. I run with a group of guys who enjoy the Greenway for our Saturday long runs. Full press release follows.


GDOT Announces Transportation Enhancement Funding Awards

ATLANTA – State Transportation Board member Bill Kuhlke, Jr., of Augusta, today announced the recipients of Transportation Enhancement (TE) program funds for Fiscal Year 2008 & Fiscal Year 2009 for the 10th Congressional District.

The TE program is federally-funded and was originally established in 1991 by the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA). The program was continued by the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy For Users (SAFETEA-LU) in 2005. The Georgia DOT’s Planning Office manages the TE program in Georgia.

“I’m delighted to announce these grants,” Kuhlke said. “We received a great many excellent applications from communities and organizations in the 10th District. Unfortunately, we could not fund them all in this grant phase. These which are being funded showed great local government commitment to improving their community’s quality of life and their local elected leaders and state legislators are to be commended.”

The TE program’s goal is to enrich the transportation experience of Georgians through specific types of enhancement projects. The kinds of projects funded by the TE program include multi-use facilities such as walking and biking trails and paths; streetscaping and landscaping projects in cities and towns; historic preservation of transportation-related facilities like railroad depots; and scenic preservation of views and scenic byways.

This year, the Georgia DOT received a total of 285 eligible applications representing combined requests for more than $176 in federal funds from all 13 congressional districts. In this selection round, $54.6 million in federal funds are available for Fiscal Years 2008 and 2009 for distribution statewide.

Up to 80 percent of the funds being used for these projects have been provided by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), with the local government funding the remainder of the total project cost. The local government project sponsor is responsible for implementing the TE project and obtaining federal reimbursement from Georgia DOT.

To aid in the project selection, the Georgia DOT relies on an extensive in-house technical review and the Transportation Enhancement Advisory Panel, which was formed in 1992. The advisory panel group of professionals, representing statewide expertise in the various TE project categories, evaluated each application and forwarded its recommendations to the State Transportation Board for final selection of the funded projects.

The selected projects in the 10th Congressional District are:

• $440,000 to the University of Georgia Board of Regents for a greenway connector in Clarke County – a pedestrian/bike trail across the North Oconee River linking the University of Georgia’s River Trail with Athens/Clarke County’s Oconee River Greenway, advocated by State Senators Bill Cowsert, R-Athens, and Ralph Hudgens, R-Hull, as well as State Representatives Bob Smith, R-Watkinsville, Keith Heard, D-Athens, and Doug McKillip, D-Athens;

• $500,000 to the Town of Grovetown in Columbia County for a one-mile extension of the Euchee Creek Trail from Harlem-Grovetown Road to Reynolds Farm Road, advanced by State Senator Bill Jackson, R-Appling, and State Representatives Barry Fleming, R-Harlem, and Ben Harbin, R-Evans;

• $500,000 to Elbert County for interior renovation of the Rock Gym/Armory which is being converted to a regional conference and welcome center, promoted by Sens. Jackson and Hudgens, as well as State Representative Tom McCall, R-Elberton;

• $238,880 to the Town of Union Point in Greene County for the rehabilitation of a 1962 gasoline station to be used as a welcome center, supported by State Senator Johnny Grant, R-Milledgeville, and State Representative Mickey Channell, R-Greensboro;

• $500,000 to the Town of Demorest in Habersham County for a pedestrian network streetscape project in the vicinity of US Highway 441/Central Avenue and Georgia Street, advocated by State Senator Nancy Schaefer, R-Turnerville, and State Representative Ben Bridges, R-Cleveland;

• $500,000 to the town of Braselton in Jackson County for a streetscape project on State Route 53 through the downtown area, advanced by Sen. Hudgens and State Senator Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville, as well as Rep. McCall and State Representative Tommy Benton, R-Jefferson;

• $400,000 to the Town of Thomson in McDuffie County for the rehabilitation of the circa 1860-Thomson Depot for use as a community center, promoted by Sen. Jackson and State Representative Sistie Hudson, D-Sparta;

• $442,000 to the City of Watkinsville in Oconee County for the extension of its pedestrian network to link the central business district with the commercial and arts&park districts, supported by Sen. Cowsert and Rep. Smith;

• $600,000 to Augusta State University in Richmond County for the development of a multi-use trail and historical and archaeological interpretative displays through the school’s campus, advocated by State Senator Ed Tarver, D-Augusta, and State Representative Barbara Sims, R-Augusta; and

• $80,000 to the City of Tignall in Wilkes County for the construction of sidewalks and recreation areas being lost as the result of an economic development expansion, advanced by Sen. Jackson and Reps. Channell and Fleming.

Kuhlke said the support of the various legislators listed above was key to their respective projects’ successful funding.

More information on the TE program and applications are available on the Georgia DOT Web site. ---

CONTACT: David Spear – 404) 657-6952


Oconee Democrat said...

Bravo! Well done.

Brian said...

Thanks Dan. It will probably take a few years, but these funds will make a big difference for Watkinsville.