Work to resume on Downtown Athens improvement projects

Premiere Structures and the Athens Water Department plan to start back work on the TAP Square project and the water pressure improvement project in Downtown Athens.

Premiere crews plans to start on the interior of The Square on Wednesday, Jan. 9, weather permitting. The Water Department plans to start on Marion Street on Jan. 14, weather permitting.

The TAP, or Transportation Alternatives Program, project is through the Alabama Department of Transportation. Premiere Structures received the bid at $440,156. ALDOT funds 80 percent and the city 20 percent.

“This is a project the city tackled before the federal government stepped in to tell us our pedestrian areas around The Square need to meet current handicap accessibility requirements,” Mayor Ronnie Marks said. “This project also addresses a safety issue where pedestrians are crossing to and from the merchant side and courthouse side through oncoming traffic with no signalization or stop signs.”

The project includes corner crossings to and from the Courthouse, removing the middle crosswalks that are in oncoming traffic, making sidewalks wheelchair accessible, and installing energy efficient lighting. To add to the improvements, Athens-Limestone Tourism, Athens Rotary and Athens Main Street donated $15,000 each for the city and Limestone County Commission improvements on the Marion Street side where events occur. This included new lights the county installed around the courthouse and an electrical box Athens Utilities installed to handle electrical needs for entertainment and vendors.

The Water Department project is an effort to improve water pressure downtown.

Both projects started last summer, but crews stopped work during the holiday shopping season. Here is the breakdown of work remaining:

• Premiere plans to start Jan. 9, weather permitting. Crews will start on the courthouse side of Market Street to finish that portion and finish out the remainder of the courthouse sides. This will take about five weeks.
• Premiere then will go to the Washington Street business side, which will take about three weeks. This includes extending the sidewalk, adding the new light poles, new trees, and sloping the bulb outs.
• Premiere then will go to the Jefferson Street business side, which will take about three weeks.

• Athens Water will start on Jan. 14 on the Marion Street side to finish its work there. This will take about one week with partial street closures.
• Athens Water then will cross Washington Street and go on to Jefferson Street. This will take up to 2 ½ weeks and will require blocking some of the parking area for up to 1 ½ weeks. Athens Water will start as early in the morning as possible each day and try to stop work by lunch.

Crews are going to add temporary striping at the corner crosswalks to and from the courthouse side.

Public Works is working on its 2019 paving budget and plans to put paving The Square in the schedule for the late August timeframe. This will give time for the street cuts to settle.

Information via the City of Athens: