2017-11-15 / Front Page

‘Gateway’ construction hurdles finally cleared

The proposed “Gateway” project had been standing stagnant for two years before Economic Development Director Jamey Crozier was tasked by the city with conducting a study on the feasibility of completing the project in 2015.

Crozier presented his findings to the mayor and council at a special meeting in June 2015 and the city council voted to proceed with the project.

“This project is crucial, as it serves as a welcome center, rest area and a reason for visitors,” Crozier stated. “Once this project happens, we have a convenience store and another hotel that are possibly interested in building near that location.”

Two of the three required phases have been completed. The Preliminary Engineering Phase included planning studies, environmental documentation, design plans, right-of-way plans and construction bid documents.

The Right-of-Way Phase includes the property acquisition. The Right-of-Way plan waiver is under review at GDOT’s Right-of-Way office. Results of that review should be received within 30 days.

Bid documents are being prepared for the construction phase which Crozier hopes to start in December. “We were hoping to begin the construction phase in September,” Crozier stated. “But, some litigation occurred during the property acquisition phase that delayed the project about eight months.”

Crozier has worked with the city, the engineering firm and the GDOT to continue the design phases during this time allowing for the concept report, environmental clearance and design plans to be completed to keep the project on course.

The city received notice earier this month the GDOT has approved the Location and Design plan for the project.

The Gateway project was first proposed in 2007 as part of the Early County 2055 Economic Revitalization Plan funded by the Charles and Catherine B. Rice Foundation.

The scope of the project included purchasing and improving 21 acres of land as well as landscape improvements along US 27 and Magnolia Street.

The Georgia DOT awarded the City of Blakely $500,000 in federal Transportation Enhancement monies in 2007 for the study and planning phase of the project.

The city received another $300,000 Transportation Enhancement grant for the project in June 2011.

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