Before the city of Augusta takes a giant leap forward with plans to revamp a main thoroughfare from downtown to south Augusta, leaders are asking residents to talk about their ideas.
Using a $1.8 million grant, Sustainable Development Manager John Paul Stout said the city is undertaking further studies on the first phase of a $500,000 master plan financed by the Augusta Commission in 2009.
The plan’s “priority corridor” is the 15th Street-Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard-Deans Bridge Road corridor, which runs from downtown to Regency Mall.
A week of public meetings is scheduled for residents and stakeholders to meet with project leaders. Beginning Tuesday, residents will have a chance to provide input on needs for housing, retail, parks and jobs.
After several planning days and open house meetings, the findings and recommendations will be presented Saturday.
The bulk of the grant, jointly funded by the U.S. Departments of Transportation and Housing and Urban Development, will go toward a detailed plan for sidewalks, street lights, covered bus shelters and other pedestrian and transit needs, Stout said. More research will help identify projects and funding sources to revitalize the area and improve the quality of life.
The corridor, which runs through one of Augusta’s central areas and one of its poorest, needs to attract business growth and traditional neighborhood developments, Stout said.
Several forces are working together to start improvements. The Georgia Department of Transportation has a guaranteed $21.4 million to widen 15th Street from Milledgeville Road to Government Road, currently scheduled to begin between 2016 and 2019.
Also, the Augusta Housing Authority plans to demolish the Cherry Tree Crossing public housing project and replace it with a mixed-income development, an announcement that Stout said resolved questions from residents.
“As we’re planning for development along this corridor, what some people saw as a dire need for housing redevelopment is exactly what happened,” he said.