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Rome sets sights on road paving

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A “massive paving project” is how Rome Public Works Director Chris Jenkins described his priority for funding through an extension of the 1-cent special purpose local option sales tax.

Jenkins said he expects to have a list of project proposals to put before the SPLOST Citizens Advisory Committee by the end of the month.

A package is expected to go before voters in the November election, for funding through collections after the current tax expires on March 31, 2019.

There are 265 road miles inside the city limits, Jenkins said. His plan to seek SPLOST money to boost the annual resurfacing program drew support from the public works committee.

“We should be paving about 10 percent of our streets every year, but we haven’t done that in over a decade,” Public Services Manager Kirk Milam said. “That’s showing up now.”

Jenkins said crews are reviewing the condition of all the roads in the city, and he will be prioritizing them for work. The focus would be on high-traffic roads, including state routes, but surface streets also are expected to appear prominently on the final list.

“Some neighborhoods haven’t been paved in 20 years, and if the pavement fails, you almost have to start over at the road bed,” Milam said.

Several other projects also could be proposed. Jenkins said he’s looking at a streetscape plan for “the Fifth Avenue Art District,” across the Oostanaula River from downtown Rome.

“That’s come up several times,” he said.

The home to The Foundry growler pub and several antique stores also includes Barron Stadium and the Courtyard by Marriott hotel under construction on West Third Street. It could eventually encompass part of Avenue B, out to Turner McCall Boulevard.

The city has budgeted about $100,000 this year to make the area more inviting to private investors via sidewalk fixes and other infrastructure improvements.

Another project Jenkins said he is mulling is the installation of sidewalks at Garrard Park — the former General Electric property at Lavender Drive and Redmond Circle that now houses a network of public trails.

“I’ve gotten a lot of emails on that and it’s heavily used,” Jenkins said. “There’s already a footpath worn from the traffic.”