Community leaders have their foot back on the gas pedal after a brief tap the brakes moment this week related to plans for the Fifth Avenue Bridge.
Friday morning, Floyd County leaders expressed a willingness to work with the city to reconfigure the bridge as an attractive entrance to the River District.
County Commissioner Scotty Hancock said county leaders were “100% behind the project” but needed to be a part of the conversation and planning moving forward.
Development of details related to whatever design officials come up with are going to have to happen within the next two months because City Engineer Aaron Carroll said he expects to have a bid package for a specific streetscape design along North Fifth Avenue and West Third Street out by sometime in May.
Approximately 50 city and county leaders were joined by River District property owners for a meeting at the Courtyard Rome Riverwalk to talk about the design that was laid out and tested on the bridge a week ago.
Most of the discussion related to traffic flow and backups getting in to and out of the Floyd County Courthouse or Joint Law Enforcement Center.
Rome-Floyd County Fire Chief Troy Brock outlined challenges associated with getting emergency apparatus across the bridge if it were narrowed to two lanes.
“We can make adjustments, but it is going to affect response times,” Brock said. The chief also suggested that if the city were to use bond financing to do all of the streetscape project in the River District at the same time, that they include funds to relocated Station One which is at the corner of West First Street and Riverside Parkway.
Janet Fortune, co-owner of Yellow Door Antiques said she was supportive of anything that would slow traffic down of Fifth Avenue.
“Is it a traffic corridor, or is it a pedestrian corridor?” asked Commissioner Mark Cochran.
One of the unknown factors that will have a direct impact on plans for the corridor involves the 200 residential units planned for the area.
That could add as many as 300 cars a day in the area, Mayor Craig McDaniel said.
The Four Stones project also includes some retail and entertainment venues closer to the Courtyard Rome Riverwalk Hotel.
Thom Holt, another area property owner, also told the group that he is working to develop another 127 residential units on Avenue A, just past the intersection of North Fifth Avenue and West Third Street.
“This is very complex and there are a lot of different players,” Carroll said.
Water and sewer lines on North Fifth Avenue and West Third Street are going to be upgraded before the year is out, a lot of power lines are going to be moved underground and the Four Stones group hopes to break ground on their $43 million redevelopment project before the end of the year.