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City aims for safer roads
Old Register, Packinghouse and Lanier slated for improvements
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    Statesboro City Council approved plans Tuesday to revamp sections of two city streets and implement new, pedestrian crossings on another.
    In an afternoon session in City Hall’s second-floor chambers, council members voted unanimously to contract services for roadway improvements to Lanier Drive, Packinghouse Road and Old Register Road.
    Officials agreed to award a  $229,343 contract to Everett Dykes Grassing Co., of  Cochran, Ga., to strip asphalt and repave portions of Old Register and Packinghouse roads.
    Jason Boyles, the assistant city engineer, said the section of Old Register to undergo improvements runs from the Georgia Southern University campus, at Forest Drive, to Veterans Memorial Parkway.
    The block on Packinghouse is between East Oliff Street and Acorn Trail.
    Both portions of road are in dire need of renovation, Boyles said. The projects will be paid for with operating and 2007 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds.
    Georgia Southern has issued a verbal commitment to pay half of the cost of resurfacing Old Register, Boyles said.
    A second contract awarded — for $66,485, to Ellis Wood Contracting, of Statesboro — will add safety measures to busy sections of Lanier Drive.
    The city will fund refuge areas to be constructed in the road’s median, where Georgia Southern students frequently cross to reach bus stops, said Statesboro City Engineer Robert Cheshire.
    “In essence, what we are constructing is what is called ‘isles of refuge’ — islands in the middle of the road to give crossing pedestrians a safe place to stop,” Cheshire said. “We have spent a lot of time on this to make sure it is safe. It gives pedestrians a safe place to cross and allows them to only have to look in one direction for traffic as they cross to or from the island.”
    The project will be paid for using 2007 SPLOST funds. Construction will be expedited, Cheshire said, so it is completed when Georgia Southern University’s fall semester begins in August.
    In other business Tuesday, council approved a pair of zoning changes that will affect properties downtown.
    Per a request by the Downtown Statesboro Development Authority, councilmen approved a motion to change the zoning of a vacant 2.6-acre tract of land on South College Street,  behind the Midtown Market on South Main Street, to allow for high-density residential use — duplex or apartment buildings.
    “This is part of our downtown master plan. It revitalizes a South Main Street corridor that has become tired over time,” said Allen Muldrew, the authority’s director. “The DSDA is working hard to improve all property owners on South Main, and we feel like this (change) brings in a clientele and improves on a piece of property that can help us get where we want to go with South Main.”
    Council also altered an existing variance for a business at 612 S. Zetterower Ave. — Express Tune and Lube — to allow for the sale of automobiles. The change will allow for up to nine parking spaces at the business to be used for the sale and display of used or new vehicles.
    In one other action, council officially adopted a city budget for fiscal year 2013.
    The budget was first presented and reviewed during a public budget retreat held in April at the Georgia Southern City Campus downtown. 
    Council is scheduled to hold its next meeting at 9 a.m. July 3 at 9 a.m. in City Hall.
    Jeff Harrison may be reached at (912) 489-9454.

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