151 enhancements

The city of Ringgold plan on trying to enhance both sides of Alabama Highway to make it look and feel more in line with historic downtown once the current road construction project is completed.

The city of Ringgold would like to make some cosmetic upgrades along Alabama Highway (Ga. 151) after the current road-widening and bridge-replacement project is completed.

During the March 9 City Council meeting, officials discussed changes they would like to see along the roadway once all the construction work is finalized.

“With the completion of Alabama Highway coming up in roughly 12 months, depending on what the DOT tells us, we discussed in great detail at our retreat that we would like to see some enhancements along Alabama Highway between U.S. 41 and the college (Georgia Northwestern Technical College), which would give that area also the feel of being in downtown Ringgold,” council member Randall Franks said.

With the construction making that stretch of road more accessible, Franks says the city wants to make both sides of the road more inviting to tourists and all who visit the stores and restaurants along the route.

“That would take the form of sitting areas along the various sides of the street — working hopefully with corporate partners because most of our business owners down through there are not local businesses, but rather corporate investments in our community,” Franks said. “We’re hoping we can partner with them to help finance the cost of doing some of these areas where you’ll find improved solar lighting, as well as benches — possibly some trash cans to catch the trash along the route because there’s going to be a long stretch of sidewalks on both sides of Alabama Highway.”

Overall, the construction includes a 2.07-mile project to widen and reconstruct Alabama Highway beginning south of Rollins Industrial Park and extending to U.S. 41 in Catoosa County.

The widening will be from a two-lane roadway to a four-lane divided with a 20-foot raised median to Boynton Road/Lafayette Street and flush median to U.S. 41. The project also includes the replacement of the two bridges over I-75 and South Chickamauga Creek, and the reconstruction of the interchange of I-75 and Ga. 151.

Although the project is still a good ways away from being completed, Franks said the planning portion of the endeavor should begin now.

“At this point, what we’re requesting is to develop the design and engineering services to define the scope of that potential project and the alternatives — any alternatives that may be taken to implement it, and also develop a plan to coordinate an approach with our corporate partners once that’s done,” Franks said.

One of the biggest goals is making the business sector of Alabama Highway look as inviting as the historic downtown area.

“I think making Alabama Highway feel a little bit consistent in its look and feel as part of Ringgold will be a great thing once the project is complete,” Franks said. “By getting a jump on it, we will be able to hopefully nail some of that down to start once they’ve completed their project.”

During the discussion, City Manager Dan Wright added that the council discussed a potential Georgia Department of Transportation landscaping grant that might be available for the project.

No official action was taken on the matter, but Franks did say that he looks forward to the process of determining what might be done to enhance that area.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009.

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