Clayton Street Improvements
Streetscape Design at Jan. 17 Work Session; Public Art Component Presentation Delayed until Feb. Work Session
The proposed East Clayton Street Improvements Projects streetscape design will be presented to the Mayor and Commission at their Thursday, January 17 Work Session by ACCGOV's SPLOST staff.
The Work Session takes place at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Commission Chamber. It will be televised live on ACTV Cable Channel 180 and streamed live and available on-demand online at www.accgov.com/videos and www.youtube.com/accgov.
Originally scheduled to be presented at the same meeting, the public art component selected through the public solicitation process by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission has been moved to the February 12 Work Session due to the number of items on the January agenda.
The agenda and presentations for the January 17 Work Session are now available online at www.accgov.com/agendas.
Pre-Dig for Traffic Signal Poles During Jan. 22-24
The ACC Transportation and Public Works Department’s Streets and Drainage staff will continue work for the Clayton Street Improvements Project by pre-digging at the planned sites of five traffic signal poles along the corridor next week. Digging the holes in the areas where the traffic signal poles are planned for placement will allow staff to identify any underground conflicts with these planned signal locations.
These sites are located near the intersections of N. Lumpkin Street (1 pole – northeast corner by Horton’s), College Avenue (1 pole – southeast corner by Subway), N. Jackson Street (2 poles – northeast corner by Flanigan’s, southwest corner by Pitaya), and N. Thomas Street (1 pole – southwest corner by BB&T Bank parking lot).
Digging is scheduled from Tuesday, January 22 – Thursday, January 24 beginning at approximately 7:30 a.m. starting at the N. Lumpkin Street intersection. It is expected that crews will finish 1-2 poles per day and move down the corridor as areas are completed. During construction, some lane and sidewalk restrictions will be in place, although all businesses will remain open.
The goal is to reduce the number of traffic signal poles, which are pedestrian obstacles, and better locate them. The five planned traffic signal poles are designed to cut in half the number (10) of traffic signal poles that are currently installed in the project area. The planned locations are marked with pink circles on the ground in each area.
Once dug and surveyed, holes will be backfilled and covered with temporary asphalt. Lane and sidewalk restrictions will be lifted as soon as possible in each area.
Stormwater & Streetscape Phases Delayed
Work to install the underground/above ground stormwater system and the above ground streetscape on East Clayton Street will be delayed by several months.
The delay is a result of needing to resolve approximately 60 utility conflicts - including pipes, vaults, and conduit - with both public and private utilities that were discovered during the successful Phase 1 Pre-Dig.
Many of these conflicts are complex with several options and need to be resolved prior to stormwater and streetscape installation. These utility conflicts include water and sewer, power, communications, and gas. These cannot be resolved by ACCGOV staff alone.
A conflict occurs when a utility structure is in an area where streetscape or stormwater items were planned for placement. Since completion of the pre-dig, staff and the design team have worked through several redesigns of the stormwater system to eliminate or reduce the severity of potential conflicts where possible.
An effort to resolve a utility conflict in one place frequently results in a new conflict in a different location, sometimes further down the road. The redesign goes through several iterations until a solution is developed that involves the best balance of the number of conflicts and the impact of those conflicts. While time was allotted for some relocations in the original schedule, more complex conflicts were discovered that will require more time to address for the entire project area.
Originally slated to start in January 2019 (Phase 3 - Stormwater System Installation) and April 2019 (Phase 4 - Streetscape Installation) on the block of East Clayton Street between College Avenue and Lumpkin Street, the stormwater work and likely the streetscape work will be delayed until the conflicts are resolved.
More specific timeframes will be developed in the coming months. A coordination meeting with private utilities is scheduled for late January to continue resolving the conflicts.
Crews with the Athens-Clarke County Transportation & Public Works Department completed the Clayton Street Improvement Project Phase 1 - the Pre-Dig - on Wednesday, October 3 after finishing up work on Wall Street. These same crews, who are now very familiar with the area, will also install the stormwater system.
As before, priorities when scheduling work will remain:
- Opening and cleaning up as much of the roadway/sidewalk as possible for Fridays - Sundays and special events.
- Avoiding work as much as possible between Thanksgiving and the New Year during the holiday season.
Why the Delay? The Pre-Dig Was Ahead of Schedule
The Phase 1 Pre-Dig did exactly what it was supposed to do: pre-dig a trench for installing the major parts of the stormwater pipe infrastructure and identify issues underground.
Exactly what and where items are located under the streets of downtown Athens is a mystery until the road is opened. Some structures are more than 100 years old; record keeping for public and private utilities has not always been as diligent as it is today.
As a result of the pre-dig, ACCGOV staff were able to identify a large number of previously unknown lines, vaults, conduit, and other items underground. While most of these didn't affect digging the trench itself (although some did require changes to the depth or location of the trench), they would affect other parts of the stormwater and streetscape. A staff surveyor was even on site throughout the project to make sure that items discovered were properly located and identified.
So while the pre-dig was able to proceed as normal, the number of significant conflicts between where items are and where they will need to be located was larger and more complex than expected. Staff and the design team have been working to make changes to the plans and working with private utilities to determine what needs to be moved and the order that it needs to take place.
Many of these utility conflicts need to be completed prior to the stormwater and streetscape installation. Once they are resolved, the actual stormwater system installation will go quicker as a result of the pre-dig and be less impactful to businesses and residents.
The Mayor and Commission's Work Session on Thursday, January 17 will include presentations on the streetscape design from ACCGOV's SPLOST staff (SPLOST funds are providing the improvements) and on the public art component selected through the public solicitation process by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission.
The Work Session takes place at 5:30 p.m. in the City Hall Commission Chamber. It will be televised on ACTV Cable Channel 180 and streamed live and available on-demand online at www.accgov.com and www.youtube.com/accgov.
ACCGOV staff and the design team will meet with impacted utilities in late January to continue resolving the conflicts and developing a timeframe for resolution.
ACCGOV staff will pre-purchase materials for stormwater and traffic engineering purposes in February and March. Although purchasing the stormwater materials will simply allow work to begin as soon as conflicts are resolved, some items such as traffic signal poles are now experiencing long delivery times of up to nine months or more. This will allow for materials to be on hand and ready to be installed as soon as possible.
How Does This Affect the Overall Schedule?
Originally, the stormwater installation was scheduled for January 2019 - March 2020 (with a break from Aug. 2019 - Jan. 2020) and streetscape installation was scheduled for April 2019 - Aug. 2020 (with a break from Nov. 2019 - Jan. 2020).
While the specific timeframe will be developed further in the coming months, it is hoped that the overall schedule will merely be shifted a few months later than expected while still taking breaks over the holidays in 2019.
Revised Clayton Street Improvements Project Timeline
- Mayor & Commission Work Session Presentation (streetscape & public art component) – January 17
- Mayor & Commission Preliminary Plan Approval – February 5
- Coordination Meeting with Private Utilities – January 29
- Pre-purchase of Traffic & Stormwater Materials – February & March 2019
More specific timelines will be developed in the coming months for overall work and block-by-block schedules.
Overall Clayton Street Improvements Project Timeline
General tentative project schedule (updated Jan. 8, 2019):
- Pre-Dig Phase (for Stormwater System) - June 18 - Nov. 1, 2018 - completed Oct. 3
- Private Utility Relocations - Ongoing
- Stormwater System Installation by Athens-Clarke County - TBA
- Streetscape Installation by Private Contractor - TBA
Note that schedules referenced on these documents have changed.
The Athens-Clarke County Mayor and Commission approved the Clayton Street area project concept at their Regular Voting Session on Tuesday, January 2, 2018 and the preliminary design at their Regular Voting Session on Tuesday, June 5, 2018 for Clayton Street from Thomas Street to North Lumpkin Street. Wall Street and North Jackson Street from East Broad Street to Washington Street are considered part of the overall project that will be considered during the design planning.
At this meeting, the Mayor & Commission:
- approved the proposed project concept elements for Clayton Street Infrastructure & Transportation Improvements that were included in the agenda item attachment;
- approved the project as appropriate for including public art as per Athens-Clarke County policy and requested by the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission;
- authorized staff to advance the stormwater and other underground infrastructure of the project to be built by Athens-Clarke County Transportation and Public Works staff to the construction phase;
- and authorized staff to begin the preliminary plans design phase and to begin taking public input on the preliminary design.
Phase 1 of the project was completed in 2014 by the ACC Public Utilities Department and included improving water and sewer infrastructure in this area downtown.
Phase 2 of the project is designed to install and improve stormwater facilities and other infrastructure, as well as the streetscape on the East Clayton Street area between Thomas Street and Lumpkin Street.
Phase 2 project work will include:
- pavement/sidewalk removal
- tree replacement
- storm drain installation
- pedestrian lighting installation
- pavement/sidewalk replacement,
- installation of streetscape amenities such as benches, bike racks and planters.
Originally funded through Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funds, the project originally included improvements to the area around City Hall. Phase 2 was put on hold in fall 2015 due to the sole project bid coming in at nearly twice the budgeted amount for the project after the previous bid opportunity received no responses in 2014.
Since 2015, plans were changed to reduce costs by eliminating the City Hall area of the project, leaving only the Clayton Street area, and planning for ACC Transportation and Public Works to obtain the needed equipment and crews to undertake the stormwater and other underground infrastructure internally, thus reducing the cost and risk.
On November 7, 2017, voters in Athens-Clarke County approved the Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (TSPLOST) program. One of the projects in this program added funding to the original SPLOST funds for the Clayton Street area project, which has enabled the project to move forward in early 2018 into the planning stage and, beginning on June 18, 2018, the construction stage.
The removal of multi-space parking meters and replacement with single space meters in this area was a part of the project that has already been accomplished.