Perhaps as early as next week, Peachtree City officials will host a grand opening event for the cart path bridge spanning the CSX railroad tracks along Ga. Highway 54 west.
The date has not been finalized though the project is nearing completion. But in the anticipation of the opening, the city is hoping to encourage local merchants in the area to take advantage of the special occasion.
Last week the city council voted to waive the usual $25 special event fee normally assessed on businesses who want to conduct a sidewalk sale or similar promotion such as a garden sale. The permit allows businesses to use special banners, tents, portable signs and inflatable play areas.
Businesses are allowed to have no more than four such special events each year, but council agreed that any special events held in conjunction with the bridge opening would not count against that limit.
The city’s encouragement of businesses for the grand opening is a natural since the bridge and tunnels underneath the highway provide a way for residents to travel between The Avenue, Marketplace and McIntosh Village shopping centers.
The installation of the approach paths between the bridge and tunnels are complete, but a few minor additions must take place before the grand opening can be scheduled, city officials said. Some areas will require guardrails for safety and the shoulder grading must also be finished, said City Engineer David Borkowski.
The project’s completion has been a long time in coming. It has been more than three years since the bridge was installed during part of the widening of Hwy. 54 in the area.
The Georgia Department of Transportation also built two tunnels under the road in conjunction with the widening project.
A significant part of the delay was chalked up to the length of time it took DOT to evaluate the city’s air quality impact study, which is ironic since the only emissions that might be tied to the path would come from the use of gas-powered golf carts, which are far outnumbered by electric carts.
The project also lacked continuity because the grant for the path installation was a separate project from the road widening, officials said.
The city got DOT approval to proceed with path construction and awarded a bid the end of November, but rains in the area have slowed the path construction significantly and pushed the project several weeks past its estimated completion date.
The contractor on the project is Lewallen Construction Company Inc. of Marietta. Of the total $157,490 cost, the city has to chip in $31,498 as its 20 percent matching grant, with the rest coming from the DOT grant.