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Commission Approves T-SPLOST List, Milledge Circle Historic District Study, Chase Street Reboot

Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

The future Firefly Trail.

The Athens-Clarke County Commission approved a $109.5 million list of transportation projects on Tuesday, unchanged from a work session last month.

That means completion of the Firefly Trail will be fully funded at $16.8 million, allowing it to be completed all the way to Winterville if voters approve a 1 percent sales tax for transportation in November.

T-SPLOST would also fund road repaving, extending the North Oconee River Greenway, new sidewalks and bike lanes, hybrid buses and bus stops, transit service up Highway 29, replacing an aging Tallassee Road bridge, and a roundabout at Milledge Avenue and Whitehall Road.

The commission also:

• voted to reverse an earlier decision to put Chase Street on a road diet.  The previously four-lane portion of the street will be returned to four lanes and bike lanes will not be added, pending the results of a Complete Streets study due in November. However, sidewalk and crosswalk improvements at Chase Elementary and Nantahala will move forward.

• approved a study area for a potential Milledge Circle historic district after removing the western section of Milledge Circle, between Westlake Drive and Highland Terrace.

• awarded a $622,000 contract to build a sidewalk along West Hancock Avenue and Hills Chapel Street connecting the H.T. Edwards Building to the West Broad School.

• asked for more information about Marion Cartwright’s proposed land swap for a sewer easement along the route of a future greenway extension near Carriage Lane. Cartwright said the swap would be more environmentally friendly and preserve the beauty of the area, but according to ACC Manager Blaine Williams, there are topographical challenges associated with laying a sewer line on the west versus the east side of the river.

• approved changes to alcohol license fees in order to settle a law suit filed by bar owners alleging that ACC’s fees can exceed the state limit of $5,000 when combined with other fees. The changes raise fees for retail sales and breweries (which starting Sept. 1 will be able to sell directly to consumers) and lower them for restaurants with low-volume sales. The charge for Sunday sales and additional fees based on gross alcohol sales and number of employees have been eliminated.