Avondale Estates City Commission donates parts of city right-of-way to GDOT for U.S. 278 road dietE. College Avenue, (US-278) looking west from Avondale Estates. Photo by Dean Hesse.
This story has been updated.
Avondale Estates, GA — The city of Avondale Estates will donate four sections of city right-of-way to the Georgia Department of Transportation in order to complete the U.S. 278 road diet.
“Our goal is to create a walkable, safe environment connecting with the community and catalyzing economic development in downtown,” Assistant City Manager Shannon Powell said.
The city has been working on the project since 2014. The project aims to improve U.S. 278 and includes a “road diet” that will reduce the five-lane road to three lanes between Sam’s Crossing and Ashton Place.
The project will add medians, parking and a sidewalk for bikes and pedestrians.
“We’re talking about three moving lanes with a turning lane. Sometimes that turning lane turns into a median,” Powell said. “Sometimes we have parallel parking on the sides.”
The corridor will have a 10-foot pathway throughout, and a five-foot landscape zone will run between the sidewalk and the edge of the curb. The project will include repaving U.S. 278, re-striping the road and upgrade all the traffic signals.
“I think it’s important to recognize that by doing this, by creating better places, we create new opportunities,” Powell said. “When we look at what these kinds of projects do for our communities, we see pretty clearly that we start to go from a place to drive through to a place you drive to.”
Powell said that one piece of criticism she has heard is that the project will shut down traffic. But she said that the project will cause on average an 18-second delay from one side of the city to the other. The city has generally addressed the issues that are creating traffic challenges.
The city and GDOT are exploring adding a golf cart crossing that could go across U.S. 278 to Oak Street.
The City Commission donated four sections of city-owned right-of-way that will need easements to GDOT for the project. The property at 60 and 64 N. Avondale Road, in front of the town green, will need a construction easement.
As will the property at 68 and 70 N. Avondale Road, which is in front of the town green.
“There’s a little bit of sidewalk that’s need here in front of it in order to construct the sidewalk that we intend to construct in front of the park. There’s also parking there,” Powell said.
The property at 90 N. Avondale Road will need an easement. The section is located in front of Edwin Jarvis and Finders Keepers Fashions. The city will re-stripe that site, and it will retain the same number of parking spaces it currently has.
“We’re also closing off the easternmost driveway on the property,” Powell said.
Driveway and construction easements were needed in front of City Hall.
City Manager Patrick Bryant said that there will be no cost to the city for the donation of right of way and the easements.
“This is us donating city property free of charge to GDOT for the purposes of constructing this project,” Bryant said
Construction drawings are almost complete and the city submitted the project to GDOT for final plan review within the next 30 days. The city hopes to begin construction in September 2022 and construction will last about one year.
— In other business, the city will work with Reeves Young to pave Lake and Oak Streets from U.S. 278 to the Washington-Parry connector for an amount not to exceed $38,000.
Part of the town green project includes connecting Washington and Parry Streets, along the northern edge of the park. This area includes the Lifeline property and property owned by Avila.
“As a part of the current town green contract, Reeves Young is responsible for paving a single lane of Oak Street in addition to the construction of the new segment of the Washington-Parry connector,” Bryant said.
The city asked the contractors to quote the cost of paving both lanes of Lake and Oak Streets, given the fact that the crew is already mobilized to do the road work, he added.
“That quote was a very cost-effective one in terms of the work being performed. Given the fact that most of the cost in paving is incurred by the mobilization of the crew, we were kind of able to remove that cost from this paving work,” Bryant said.
— The City Commission approved an amendment to Bryant’s contract, and he will retain his role as city manager for another year.
Bryant will receive a 4.5% pay increase, adjusting his salary from about $153,830 to about $160,752. The contract amendment provides additional severance benefits of nine-months’ health insurance coverage, or until Bryant gains health insurance from another employer, if he is terminated by the city without cause.
The City Commission will meet again on Monday, Dec. 20, at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 21 N. Avondale Plaza.
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