published Sunday, August 4th, 2013

Georgia grant seen as likely for Fort Oglethorpe’s 'Main Street'

A $3 million spruce-up appears to be moving closer to reality for Fort Oglethorpe’s “Main Street.”

City officials say the odds are good that they’ll get a $3 million grant to fix up the stretch of LaFayette Roadd from Chickamauga Battlefield to Battlefield Parkway.

“Looks like it,” City Councilman Louis Hamm said. “But I don’t like to count my chickens before they’re hatched.

“We’ll know by the end of September,” he said.

The $3 million grant from the federal Appalachian Regional Commission administered through the Georgia Department of Transportation would pay for improvements such as installing landscaped islands in the middle of the five-lane road to “calm” traffic while maintaining turn lanes. The money also would fund 8-foot-wide sidewalks separated from the street by trees and other landscaping, new signs, new lighting and extra-wide outside lanes with room for bicycles.

“I think this is one of the best plans that Fort Oglethorpe has ever had,” Hamm said.

The City Council met briefly Monday and gave its unanimous approval to set aside $145,057 as the local match for the $3 million grant, should it be approved.

Gerry Depken, chairwoman of the Fort Oglethorpe Historic Preservation Commission, is excited about the prospect of a renovated LaFayette Roadd.

“I think anything that makes an area more attractive has got to be good,” she said.

The improvement that Depken would be most excited about is also most expensive, she said. That would be “undergrounding” power lines and other utility lines.

“That’s an arm and a leg,” she said.

There’s the possibility of moving the utilities onto a parallel or back alley, according to William Shealy, a project manager with the Chattanooga office of The Jaeger Co., which put the plan together for the city.

Several “pocket parks” are called for in the LaFayette Road makeover, including one to commemorate Cloud Spring, a Union field hospital. The original spring has been covered up, but water from it flows from a concrete pipe into a basin next to Joy Carpets’ parking lot on LaFayette Road.

Contact Tim Omarzu at tomarzu@timesfree or 423-757-6651.

about Tim Omarzu...

Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.

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