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City preparing to give back 2012 TE grant for trail project

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Rome Public Services Director Kirk Milam said the city would move forward with a reduced scope for the project in 2019.  The cost to the city is expected to be cut nearly in half.

Milam told the committee the Georgia Department of Transportation finally responded to engineering plans for the project last month and what they, and federal regulators are requiring, would have cost the city at least $90,000, well above the 20 percent match for the original $156,000 grant. 

The project was originally to include a trail from Mount Aventine down to the Kingfisher Trail, widened sidewalks along East First Avenue to meet trail standards and signage downtown to connect trail users to the different trails that spoke out from the area of Broad Street and the South Broad bridge.

"We're going to focus on the connection from Kingfisher to Cantrell Street," Milam said. "We're also going to back off on that connection so there won't be any real parking facilities on Cantrell or Etowah Terrace which will allow us to avoid having to do any major retaining wall construction."

The retaining wall and several parking spaces would have been required with the grant funds.

Reconstruction of the sidewalks would in all likelihood not be done. Instead, Milam said the city could paint "Share the road" markers along East First Avenue to indicate a safe zone primarily for bike riders who use the trail network.

"I think  to the end of providing connectivity to the neighborhood that was the intent of the original project, that will be fulfilled," Milam said.

"I have become weary of hearing people ask when the Cantrell Street connection to Kingfisher will be constructed and when the Fourth Street trailhead signage will be installed," said Julie Smith, president of Trails for Recreation and Economic Development. "TRED knows first-hand how long it takes for federal dollars to turn into actual construction projects, and how the list of requirements tends to get longer and more expensive, so we are not at all disappointed that the city has given this grant back based on the new federal requirements."

  Smith said when trails have been constructed solely with local funds the time table is rapidly sped up. 

"TRED will be happy to work with the city on these trail improvement projects that will ultimately enhance the connectivity and user experience," said Smith.

Milam said the estimated budget for the work is now closer to $50,000 and that will be included in his fiscal 2019 budget request.