Statesboro’s city government will hold a public input meeting on the Blue Mile streetscape and drainage improvements Thursday, Feb. 25, from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the City Hall council chambers.
Construction on Phase 1 of the project, estimated to cost $3.8 million, is slated to begin this summer along South Main Street from Tillman Road north to the Fair Road intersection.
City of Statesboro staff members and project design professionals from EMC Engineering will be present Thursday to address questions and concerns of residents and property owners, city Public Information Officer Layne Phillips said in a news release. Printed copies of the project plans and renderings will also be available.
Community volunteers have been planning a redevelopment project on the South Main corridor since about 2014. In 2017, the overall Blue Mile Plan, with public infrastructure and private investment elements envisioned, won the $1 million third prize in the corporate-sponsored America’s Best Communities competition.
Since then, the city government and the foundation have been cooperating on the streetscape portion of the plan. EMC Engineering began design work early in 2016, but the project experienced several delays, including some prompted by a Georgia Department of Transportation, or GDOT, drainage study and by the lack of a completed concept for the Creek on the Blue Mile project, Phillips noted.
The Creek on the Blue Mile is a separately envisioned project but crosses the streetscape and would be connected to it.
Last August the GDOT approved a grant of up to $1,193,000 to the city for the streetscape and drainage project, but given the cost projection of $3.8 million, officials expect that the city will cover more than half the total from its Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax and public utilities revenues. This remains a city-directed project, with some state funding.
In this project
In the half of the Blue Mile it covers, this phase of the project will bring sidewalk widening, utility relocation, one bus shelter for the city’s planned mass transit program, driveway access points designed to be safer for pedestrians to cross, landscaped “pocket parks,” benches and streetlamps.
The GDOT’s grant award required the city to have the project “in progress” by June 1. That can be satisfied by obtaining bids, which city officials hope to do around March, and awarding a construction contract, John Washington, Statesboro’s city public works and engineering director, said in a recent interview.
“Our plans are to get started in the summer of 2021,” he said. “We’re estimating it’s a 15- to 16-month project.”
As recently reported, the GDOT is requiring that privately owned signs be moved back from the right of way of South Main Street – which is a portion of U.S. Highways 301 and 25 and State Route 73 – for the streetscape and drainage project. This affects 16 business locations, but the city has set aside a portion of its funding for the to help property owners with the sign relocation costs.
Following the public meeting on the streetscape and drainage project, feedback and input will be assessed and revisions to the proposed plan may occur. If no major changes are proposed as a result of public feedback and input, plans will be finalized and the project will proceed to the construction phase, Phillips wrote.
Citizens who are unable to attend the meeting can view the proposed plans and renderings at www.statesboroga.gov/community-feedback and submit questions and comments using the fill-in form at the bottom of the web page.
Not in this one
The current project does not entail Phase 2 of the streetscape concept north from the Fair Road intersection. The proposal for a roundabout at the South Main and Fair Road intersection isn’t included in the current plan, either. The proposed roundabout is a separate project slated for 2023 or beyond.