With street construction in downtown Thomson set for January, the city along with McDuffie County turned in an application last week to do more work on the area in the near future.
The Georgia Department of Transportation awarded a federal Transportation Enhancement Grant to revitalize the streetscape of Main Street that will widen lanes and make the area more pedestrian friendly. Construction will begin early next year.
Officials were notified in August that applications for a second round of TE Grants were due on September 23. That sparked a scramble to complete an application that would tie into the first project as well as open up traffic lanes into the proposed City/ County government complex.
"A lot of work and good planning has gone into it, and I think that it shows that it's part of an overall plan," said Thomson City Administrator Bob Flanders. "Those are some of the strengths of projects that are usually considered whenever they're compared from one community to the other."
The plan for the $626,000 project includes the widening or enhancement of Trade Street, Greenway Street and Railroad Street. It also calls for the railroad crossing at Greenway to be moved to Black Street to allow for straight access from the Augusta Highway. Several parking lots will be added to help with downtown shopping.
Mr. Flanders said he feels the possibility of being awarded the second grant is strong.
"I think we've got a solid application, and I think we'll be competitive," he said. "How well we will actually fare is, of course, anybody's guess because you never know exactly what they're looking for and how they'll end up treating it."
The federal portion of the money for the work - 80 percent or $501,000 - will come through the DOT. That leaves the local portion of the project costing 20 percent or $125,000 in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax.
Prior to the application deadline, Athens-based engineering firm Chasman and Associates - who designed the project with input from local officials - brought in a traffic engineer to help lay out the best way for traffic to flow through the area.
Mr. Flanders said, if the city and county were awarded the second grant, there would be time to tweak some of the plans in the original application.
"There's always the possibility that additional planning and focusing on some of the opportunities that you've got will basically force you to rethink some of the things that you think right now are good ideas," he said.
He added that officials should receive word on the grant before the end of the year. If awarded, they will have two years to finalize plans and get construction underway.