TAP Project for Downtown Athens
- Market Street side will be done by Oct. 1 on the exterior (the side closest to the merchants). This includes the corner in front of U.G. White. There will not be any work areas on the merchant side after the first of October. Starting Wednesday, Sept. 19, construction crews will start on the interior of the Marion Street side (Courthouse side), where the sidewalk will be extended for a staging area to accommodate events on The Square. This work will be done by Oct. 20 in time for Storytelling. The construction workers will limit the number of parking spaces impacted by the interior work to five. Work left after these two portions includes Jefferson Street interior and exterior, exterior of Washington and interior of Market Street. No work needs to be done on the interior side of Washington Street. City staff will continue to meet with contractors every 2 weeks for updates and keep merchants/public updated. Based on input from merchants and the public, the city is installing more decorative Stop signs where 4-way stops are now. These will be permanent for the foreseeable future. Signals will remain on Jefferson Street. Six lots on the east side of Marion Street by Rogers Portraits and Patrick Anderson's office will go to 3-hour parking. 3-hour parking remains on the back side of the Marion Street merchants in the row of spaces by the alley. Downtown merchants on the north east side are encouraged to use the old Regions Bank lot across from City Hall and Hobbs Street as an option for employee parking.
- Starting Sept. 17, Premiere Construction has about two weeks of work left to do on the Market Street side. The Water Dept. has about two weeks of work left on Marion Street. The department halted work this week to give the merchants on Marion St. a break. Crews will start back to work on Monday, Sept. 17. To address customer parking, starting Monday, Sept. 17, the City of Athens is making the first row of spaces next to the alley behind the Marion Street buildings into 3-hour parking. We are asking those who work on the Square to park elsewhere. Signs will be made and erected to notify the public of the 3-hour spaces. The City of Athens is going to open up parking spaces at the old Regions Bank spot across from City Hall at the corner of Hobbs and Marion for those who work on The Square, particularly those who work on the northeast side of The Square. The City knows construction is not pleasant, but the result will be a safer and more handicap accessible area for pedestrians to shop and attend events. The new lights will make The Square brighter and more welcoming for businesses that stay open later or organizations that have events later.
- The contractor plans to start demolition on the business side of Market starting on Tuesday, Aug. 21. Initial demo will include tree, asphalt, and sidewalk removal. Once the demo is completed, temporary gravel ramps will provide access to the buildings. The contractor will try to provide access and parking spaces in areas that crews are not working.
- Beginning July 2, the intersections of Marion and Washington and Marion and Market will become four-way stops due to construction and changes in electrical. Please use caution around work zones.
- Go to Street Construction and Closures page to stay updated on street and lane closures related to this project.
Overview of project
Work started the week of June 25, 2018, to improve pedestrian safety and handicap accessibility in Downtown Athens.
In 2015, the City of Athens received approval for the project from the Transportation Alternatives Program through the Alabama Department of Transportation. The project has gone through the design and bidding process. Premiere Structures received the bid at $440,156. TAP will refund the city 80 percent of the project cost.
“This is a project the city tackled before the federal government stepped in to tell us that 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.”
The project includes signalized 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. Athens-Limestone Tourism and Athens Rotary have supported the project with donations of $15,000 each toward the city’s funding match and the county's improvements. Athens Main Street has donated $10,000 and plans to donate an additional $5,000.
Morell Engineering and Premiere Structures are coordinating with the Mayor’s Office to help keep the public and merchants aware of the project’s progress. The Mayor’s Office is visiting with merchants this week to deliver information cards so employees and shoppers have access to the project’s purpose and timeline.
The contractor will erect construction signs on Tuesday, June 19. Premiere will start work on the Marion Street side on Monday, June 25. Weather permitting, the project’s completion date will be Oct. 1. Marion Street is the first phase. The next phase will be Market Street, then Washington Street, and the last phase Jefferson Street.
Contractors will not block storefronts. There will be safety fencing around work zones, and store patrons need to stay out of work areas. Workers will not block streets unless they encounter unforeseen obstacles, such as issues with buried utilities. If crews have to block a lane or entire street, the contractor will notify the Mayor’s Office. Updates on lane or street closures will be issued through Nixle alerts and the city’s social media sites: City of Athens, Alabama (Public Relations) on Facebook, @AthensAL on Twitter, and the city’s website at www.athensal.us. To sign up for Nixle alerts, go to https://local.nixle.com/register/ and choose to follow City of Athens and Utilities.
Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson asks motorists to use caution in the downtown area while the project is underway.
“Motorists need to slow down and pay attention to crews working on The Square and pedestrians walking around work zones,” Athens Police Chief Floyd Johnson said.
Water/Wastewater Manager Frank Eskridge said his crews are coordinating with Premiere’s crews so the Water Department can replace the water mains on The Square. Eskridge said the water mains are a type of cast iron no longer in use. The Water Department crews will work from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. in order to minimize traffic and convenience impacts.
The City will resurface The Square after the street cuts settle and the entire project is complete.