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Athens will receive nearly $400,000 to construct sidewalks that provide students and residents safer routes to the new Athens High School and commercial areas.
Gov. Kay Ivey notified Athens Mayor Ronnie Marks by letter that approval was given to Athens for federal Transportation Alternatives Program funding through ADECA in the amount of $393,024. The city will provide a 20 percent match.
“The latest Census Bureau figures show Athens has grown by nearly 16 percent since 2010, and if we want to continue to be attractive and be a growing city, not a struggling one, we have to provide quality of life amenities,” Marks said. “That includes safe and handicap-accessible pedestrian routes connecting our educational, commercial and residential areas. These TAP funds will give Athens the opportunity to address a critical need.”
The project is to install ADA compliant sidewalks along Pryor Street and U.S. 31 to connect residential areas, the Athens State University area, commercial areas and the new Athens High School.
One sidewalk will be on the west margin of U.S. 31 starting at Juniper Circle and moving south to Hobbs Street East. Another sidewalk will be on Pryor Street near the old Pilgrim’s Pride and will connect to a sidewalk on U.S. 31.
TARCOG, Top of Alabama Regional Council of Governments, assisted the city on the proposal.
In a support letter to ADECA, Athens City Schools Superintendent Trey Holladay said the need for a sidewalk is “even greater as we complete our new high school in the fall of 2018.” When high school students move to the new Athens High School, middle school students will move to the old high school on U.S. 31.
“These additions would provide sidewalk access to and from these two schools and to the surrounding neighborhoods,” Holladay wrote. “It will also safely connect these schools to popular commercial areas around the schools.”
Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson wrote in his support letter to ADECA that citizens of all ages should have “safe access to daily needs.”
Athens State University President Bob Glenn also wrote a support letter. Glenn wrote that the project is in the “best interest of our faculty, staff, students and the general public from a safety perspective.”
Since this grant is through ADECA, the city will work with the Alabama Department of Transportation on the project, including scheduling construction.