It’s taken eight years to get to this point but Clarkston residents will have a new streetscape that will reflect the growth and diversity of their city.
Clarkston held a press conference Dec. 11 at the Clarkston Community Center to announce the $5.7 million streetscape project, led by the engineering and consulting firm AMEC.
“We want this of project to be very inclusive and transparent,” Clarkston City Manager Keith Barker said. “We’re doing this on behalf, and for, the community. Streetscapes have been a catalyst for economic development and growth.”
Stretching from East Ponce de Leon Avenue between I-285 and Market Street, the streetscape will encompass portions of North Indian Creek, Church Street and Norman Road and will end at the entrance of Milam Park. The project design will include a variety of elements such as gateway monuments, bike lanes, railroad crossing enhancements for pedestrians and motorists, public art, street lighting, on-street parking and new granite curbs. The final design will ultimately be decided based on public input.
The Federal Highway Administration first earmarked a $3.6 million grant for the project in 2005. The grant required a local match. Clarkston requested from the state, and was the first city to receive, a loan from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure bank for $2 million. The loan will be amortized over a 15-year period with a 2.4 percent rate. The loan repayment will begin upon completion of the project.
Robert Brown, who represents DeKalb County on the Georgia Department of Transportation board, said the department is happy to partner with Clarkston to ensure the process moves along. He said a project such as this improves safety and mobility, which will lead to economic development.
“It’s obvious you are on the right path for the prosperity this community deserves.” Brown said.
According to project managers, the next 18 to 24 months will be the design planning phase. During this time, residents and merchants will have an opportunity to have express their opinions, needs and concerns regarding the final vision of the streetscape project.
City officials stressed that they don’t want the design to be taken over by a design team without input from the public.
Planners for Environmental Quality (PEQ), consultants for the city, said Clarkston plans to host public information meetings for the streetscape project next spring.
“We’re not just going to have public meeting,” said PEQ President Inga Kennedy. “We will be on the ground, coming to where you are and getting your ideas and feedback. The plans will move forward as we hear from the public.”
This is the beginning of a long project with a 2018 projected completion date, but Clarkston Mayor-elect Ted Terry echoed the sentiment expressed by many with a vested interest in Clarkston: “This is a huge part of the future of Clarkston.”
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