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Thomson's Main Street revamp could start soon

A project more than three years in the making should finally begin to show Thomson officials the fruits of their labor by this summer.

The Georgia Department of Transportation awarded a $490,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant to the City of Thomson in April of 2004 to revamp Main Street through the downtown area. Since then, work has been delayed several times.

"The DOT has been a big (delay), rights of way, first one thing and then another. I'd say that's been most of it," said Thomson City Administrator Don Powers. "Work load has been some of the other parts of it, just individual work load. But we're ready to get going."

Construction bids came in recently, and the high price tag is slowing things down, once again. Mr. Powers said city officials have been in contact with the utility companies in an attempt to reduce the cost of moving power and phone lines underground.

"We've gone back to them to see if costs can be wrung out and project modifications made where we can get going," Mr. Powers said. "...If we can't do that, we may have to re-bid it, but that's our last option."

The original description of the work included in the grant contains changes to the sidewalks on Main Street and the addition of colored textured asphalt pedestrian crossings that resemble red brick pavers.

According to the project description, "the curb and gutter will be moved back to provide a wider vehicle turning radius within the roadway, and the sidewalk reconstruction at the intersection will include ramps at the pedestrian crossings."

Other changes to the area include installation of antique-replica street lamps and the addition of planters. Also, the 19 on-street parking spaces will be removed because of a state lane width requirement.

During construction, two lanes of traffic are required to remain open. Mr. Powers said the contractor will be responsible for maintaining the traffic flow in an already congested area, but local law enforcement will also be employed there as needed.

"So there may be some discomfort there, but there will always be a couple of lanes open," he said.

In February of 2006, Thomson received approval on a second round of TE Grant money to fund parking lots on side streets to compensate for the loss of on-street parking. The $400,000 grant also offers traffic solutions for the future city/county government complex.

Mr. Powers said engineers are still in the design process for Phase II of the transportation projects. With the delays on Phase I, he said the second round is still "a while away."

Web posted on Thursday, April 26, 2007

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