As Harlem officials wait to begin the first phase of a downtown Streetscape project on Louisville Road, the city has been awarded $700,000 in state funds for the second phase of the revitalization project slated for U.S. Highway 78/278.
The city was awarded the $700,000 Georgia Department of Transportation grant Jan. 26.
The Transportation En-hancement grant, along with the required 20 percent, or $140,000, in city-matched funds, will be used to update the look of the sidewalks and streets along nearly a mile of the highway, also called Milledgeville Road.
The improvements will stretch from the IGA store at 575 W. Milledgeville Road to just east of Bill's Dollar Store at 190 E. Milledgeville Road, said Jean Dove, Harlem's city manager.
"We're going to make it all match and attractive and have rest areas where pedestrians that are walking can stop and sit down and rest," Dove said, adding that both projects will make downtown Harlem much more pedestrian-friendly.
The city was awarded $300,000, matched by $60,000 in city funds, in early 2003 for the project's first phase, slated to stretch along a four-block downtown area along Louisville Road from Forrest Street to Church Street.
The project includes widening traffic lanes to accommodate tractor-trailers, adding an overlay material to preserve existing sidewalks and adding trash receptacles, benches, lampposts, trees and shrubs.
A paved parking lot across from the Harlem Department of Public Safety has already been added to replace curbside parking spaces that will be removed.
"We are waiting for the notice to proceed from DOT," Dove said, adding that all plans have been approved and paperwork completed. "We can't proceed until we get that notice."
Dove said construction on the first phase could begin in late March or early April.
The DOT Transportation Enhancements grants are awarded to communities only for specific multiuse facilities including walking and biking trails and paths; streetscaping and landscaping projects in cities and towns; historic preservation of transportation-related facilities such as railroad depots; and scenic preservation of views and scenic byways.
The second phase of Harlem's streetscape project will match the first phase, but not any time soon. City officials still need to have engineering plans approved by DOT before construction can begin, Dove said.
"It would be nice if we could bid them together," Dove said, adding that waiting several years while the first phase gets final approval has been tough.
"But we'll get through this (first) one and then hopefully everything will be approved as far as the plans with DOT and right of way acquisitions, so we can go right into the next phase. ... It's going to be beautiful."
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