East Clayton Street Improvements Project
Completed: Stormwater Infrastructure Work
Good news! Athens-Clarke County Transportation and Public Works crews from the Streets and Drainage Division have finished the stormwater installation as part of the East Clayton Street Improvements Project.
The work was completed six weeks earlier than projected when work began on January 6, even with the weather delays experienced earlier this year.
Due to the COVID-19 situation, multiple crews worked with physical distancing between each other and separation from the other crews during April. Due to the lack of traffic downtown, streets and lanes were closed to allow for more efficient work.
A big thanks goes out to our stormwater crews, who worked through the heat, the rain, the cold, and other challenging downtown conditions - both above and below ground - over the past two years to update the stormwater infrastructure as part of this project.
What’s Next: Georgia Power Work Begins May 11
Beginning May 11, Georgia Power will begin extensive work on 14 underground power vaults and manholes in the area in order to adjust their elevations for the new streetscape and change out covers. Some are located in the sidewalks, some are located in the street, and some are located in both.
- Work on each vault will take ~3-4 weeks and work on each manhole will take ~2-3 days.
- Georgia Power will begin work on Monday, May 11 on the first vault, located between College Avenue and Jackson Street on the north side of Clayton Street (see image below).
- Next, they are expected to move to the south side in the same block. The process is expected to move from one side of the street to the other, one block at a time.
- Georgia Power crews plan to be on site from 7:00 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, weather permitting.
- Sidewalk restrictions, pedestrian rerouting, parking space closures, and lane restrictions/closures will take place to various levels depending on the vault/manhole location. No road closures are planned.
The streetscape contractor, Astra Group, will work with Georgia Power to make sure the sidewalks and streets are patched temporarily and are safe for use until the new streetscape is installed.
Once Georgia Power has finished a block, streetscape work is expected to begin in the area soon after. Currently, this timeframe appears to be in late June/early July, but is subject to change.
As work progresses, we will update the website and this newsletter, as well as contact businesses who are right next to vault / manhole work areas.
Eco-Station Areas Coming to Downtown
Related to this project - although separate from it - the ACC Solid Waste Department will be working with this project to install eco-stations in key locations.
Eco-stations are enclosed areas used to gather trash and recycling from businesses and residents in order to avoid bags and recycling being placed directly on the streetscape / sidewalk. Bags left on the curbs leak, are unsightly, cause pedestrian conflicts, and can be a safety hazard.
Eco-stations often have artistic or green components as part of them. ACC Solid Waste is working with the Athens Downtown Development Association (ADDA) and Clayton Street Improvements Project staff on some locations to be included in the streetscape work and working on the process of using the eco-stations. More information will be forthcoming as the designs are approved.
If you have questions in the meantime on the eco-stations, contact the ACC Solid Waste Department at 706-613-3501.
Streetscape Design Approved
The streetscape preliminary design was approved for the Clayton Street Improvements Project by the Mayor and Commission at their February 5, 2019 meeting.
Public Art Concept Approved
The Mayor and Commission also approved the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission's recommendation for the preliminary concept of the public art component for East Clayton Street on March 5.
Selected artist Eric Leshinsky, an urban planner, will work to finalize his Clayton Connector public art with staff and the community over the coming months, as the art installation will not occur until towards the end of the project.
The Clayton Connector uses a powder-coated galvanized metal pipe that bends in multiple ways, stops and starts, and creates functional shapes such as benches, bike racks, and other frames, as it moves along the sidewalk within a narrow area that avoids disrupting pedestrian traffic.
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.
Overall Clayton Street Improvements Project Timeline
General tentative project schedule (updated December 31, 2019):
- Pre-Dig Phase (for Stormwater System) - June 18 - Nov. 1, 2018 - completed Oct. 2019
- Private Utility Relocations & Adjustments - Ongoing
- Stormwater System Installation by Athens-Clarke County - completed April 2020
- Streetscape Installation by Private Contractor - Summer 2020 - Fall 2021
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.