SYLACAUGA – The first of three downtown improvement projects will start Wednesday.
Also known as a streetscape improvement project, the work will be on the North Broadway block between 3rd and 4th streets, which includes City Hall and the library.
Funding for the block is from a 2015 TAP Streetscape Improvement Project. The city received a $217,000 grant through the Federal Highway Administration Transportation Alternative Program (TAP). The total project cost is more than $300,000, with the city paying the remainder of the funds.
The grant is an 80-20 match, with federal funds at 80 percent, and local funds covering the remaining 20 percent.
“We’re so glad to get this first project started and out of the way,” Mayor Jim Heigl said Friday afternoon. “We were afraid we might lose our two other federal grants for downtown improvement if this project didn’t begin soon. This funding is from the 2015 TAP grant cycle.”
The Alabama Department of Transportation administers the grant. Heigl thanked ALDOT for the state’s efforts to work with the city to get the project started.
This first streetscape project for the block includes both sides of the street, with new ornamental lighting, new sidewalks, pavers and planters.
The design for the block connects with an earlier streetscape project for downtown on the two blocks from 1st and 2nd streets on North Broadway.
Heigl said the project has a 45-day completion time line, depending on the weather.
The other two projects will be funded with 2018 and 2019 TAP grants.
One grant is for improvements to the North Broadway block between 5th and 6th streets with the same designs as the previous two.
The other is for parking lot improvements between 2nd Street, 3rd Street and Calhoun Street. The work here includes American Disability Act improvements, brick pavers, planters and more.
The 2018 and 2019 funding was $640,000 in TAP grants for each project, with the city committing a $160,000 match for each.
Heigl said the council is going to hold a meeting with downtown merchants to get their input on these last two projects.
“We’re trying to bring an upscale look to downtown for the retailers and shoppers,” he said. “It means better parking with handicapped accessibility and more. Downtown is the heart of our city. We want to do what we can for merchants and shoppers.”