The City of Statesboro announced that the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has increased its original funding allocation for the Blue Mile streetscape project to $1,193,000 or 70% of the construction project cost, depending on which is less. GDOT had previously committed up to $450,000 in 2017 to the city for infrastructure improvements to South Main Street, specifically, the stretch from Tillman Road to Brannen Street along the Blue Mile.
“The Blue Mile Foundation is excited about the additional funding, which is a culmination of hard work by the City of Statesboro, the Blue Mile Foundation and GDOT”, said Keely Fennell, President of the Blue Mile Foundation. “It is exciting that this streetscape project will start in early 2021 and be the start of a lot of projected cool projects along highway 301 to come. We are grateful to GDOT for recognizing the need to improve storm water in this corridor.”
City Requested Additional Funding
The City of Statesboro requested additional funding from GDOT at the beginning of June 2020, citing a change in the scope of the project. The project was initially part of GDOT’s maintenance program to replace and upgrade storm drainage along South Main Street and address flooding issues.
“The drainage project was to be completed by July 1, 2020; however, the City was unable to meet the completion deadline,” said John Washington, Director of Public Works and Engineering for the City of Statesboro. “The City had also been simultaneously working on a streetscape improvement project for the Blue Mile during this time. To achieve the best results for both projects, it was proposed to combine the two projects into one. The total cost of the combined projects was in excess of GDOT’s original maintenance funding, thus requiring a request for grant funding.”
Construction Begins in 2021
The grant funds will be provided by GDOT’s Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant (LMIG). The Blue Mile streetscape project is slated to start in early 2021 and will include drainage updates, sidewalk widening, utility relocation, bus shelters for the new transit program, enhanced driveway access points for vehicle entry that will provide safe crossing points for pedestrians, and landscaped pocket parks for pedestrians to pause along the Blue Mile.
“This additional funding will allow us to move the streetscape project forward,” said Washington. “The Blue Mile is an integral part of Statesboro’s identity, and we are excited to finally be able to give it the revitalization and attention it deserves.”
Public Input Sought
The total estimated cost of the project is $3.8 million which will be funded through GDOT grant funds, local TSPLOST funds, and the city’s Public Utilities Department. The City of Statesboro plans to hold public input sessions in the coming weeks to hear from residents and property owners regarding the proposed improvements for the Blue Mile.
The streetscape project is part of the city’s ongoing partnership with the Blue Mile Foundation which strives to restore the corridor as a safe and desirable place to live with a vibrant commercial and artistic hub serving a nine-county region.