The city of Watkinsville plans two major projects for the near future: building sidewalks along Harden Hill Road and installing an additional sewer line in the city’s industrial park.
The city received a state grant to help with the sidewalk project and Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds to help with both projects as well, according to Mayor Charles Ivie.
“The city will be able to do these projects without any long-term debt and we may not incur any short-term debt,” he said.
The Harden Hill project “has the potential to be the biggest project Watkinsville has ever done,” Ivie said.
The curbing and sidewalks will run from High Shoals Road to the downtown area. One block from Main Street is Water Street, which runs to the Oconee County Courthouse square.
“We’re hopeful we’ll be able to come down Water Street and get an easement between (the Elder property) and the Murray House. Whether that is doable, we don’t know yet,” Ivie said.
The city has received a $298,000 grant from the State Road and Tollway Authority Board, which recently offered $23.6 million in grants for 22 transportation infrastructure projects throughout the state. The grant will partially fund the Harden Hill project, Ivie said.
A costly part of the sidewalk construction will be a pedestrian bridge across a creek that flows under Harden Hill Road. The road steeply inclines on both sides of the creek.
Engineers are working on plans to design the bridge, which will require railings, Ivie said.
“The biggest reason we’re interested in doing this is safety,” the mayor said.
The sidewalk will run on the east side of the road, which will be less expensive than the west side, which has an area with a high bank that would require a retaining wall.
The city’s timeline for the work has the engineering studies taking place this summer and right-of-way acquisitions occurring in the fall. The city plans to seek construction proposals by January and begin construction in April, which means the project could conclude in fall 2018, according to Ivie.
In addition to safety for walkers, the construction work will improve drainage along the road, he said.
Watkinsville is also planning for a new sewer line in the industrial park — which lies on the southern side of the city — where Georgia Highway 15 cuts through the industrial-zoned area that already contains several businesses and industries.
The city had previously put in a sewer line that services part of the industrial park, Ivie said.
“There is a bunch of property on the backside that has no sewage. This new line would start in the vicinity about where the old South Wire (facility) and the Ladd Trucking Co. is,” he said.
“The sewer project will give better service to those people who are there. Most of them have outgrown their septic tank footprint. If we do this sewer line, then they can expand,” he said.
“It’s not something that will be an immediate shot in the arm growthwise, but it will open us up to future development,” he said.
The park was created years ago to attract industry.
“We’re trying to take a step forward to put something there to help the area grow,” Ivie said. “The more industry we attract, the better our homeowners and small property owners will be on taxes.”