East Clayton Street Improvements Project
Stormwater Infrastructure Work Continues in January 2020
Athens-Clarke County Transportation and Public Works crews will continue stormwater infrastructure work starting on January 6, 2020. Work will take place on three blocks and is expected to last around 8-12 weeks.
These are the same crews who finished the Phase 1 Pre-Dig in fall 2018 and the stormwater installation in summer 2019, so they are familiar with the area and the challenges.
The original timeline for the East Clayton Street Improvements project was delayed 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 in fall 2018.
That work to address conflicts is still being coordinated with the design team and private utilities. Design changes (shifting where things will be placed and run underground) eliminated some of these conflicts, but not all of them. Private utilities - gas, power, cable, telecommunications, etc. - are continuing to work on their plans to move or make changes to their structures in conjunction with the stormwater installation
Some of this private utility work may occur in areas along Clayton Street separate from the work noted below, but the goal is to coordinate work with Athens-Clarke County Unified Government (ACCGov) staff and other utilities as much as possible.
Key notes about the upcoming stormwater infrastructure work:
- Work begins January 6
- ~8-12 weeks to finish
- Work takes place in segments along the three blocks (see maps linked below for locations and schedules)
- Major work takes place Monday – Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (with some Friday morning patching)
- Lane and parking restrictions on Clayton Street and some on College Avenue
- Lane and parking restrictions will run Monday - Thursday and some Friday mornings. Areas will reopen for Friday - Sunday.
- Two ACC Transportation & Public Works crews will work together on each area
As noted above, some private utility work may occur in areas other than this to address their conflicts as they can schedule it, although much of this work would be of minimal disruption.
Streetscape Work Beginning in March 2020
The Astra Group was selected in summer 2019 through an RFP (request for proposals) process to work on the pre-planning, coordination of utility conflict resolution, and construction of the streetscape component of the project.
The entire streetscape effort includes underground infrastructure needed to support items such as street lights and traffic signals, as well as hardscape surface elements such as curb and gutter, sidewalk replacement, and other above-ground elements.
- The streetscape work is scheduled to begin in March 2020.
- The process will involve working on two small segments at a time (~10 groups) along the three main blocks of East Clayton Street, two blocks of North Jackson Street, and the block of Wall Street for approximately 3-4 weeks for each group.
- This will involve the demolition of existing streetscape and the replacement to 75-80% of completion during this time.
- Pedestrian paths will be maintained during these times.
- Final completion to 100% - landscaping and paving - will be done towards the end of the project in larger segments.
- More detailed information about this work will be coming in early 2020.
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.
How Did 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).
The stormwater installation is still scheduled to end in March 2020, but the streetscape installation is expected to run from March 2020 - Fall 2021 (with a break from major work during Nov. 2020 - Jan. 2021).
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. 3
- Private Utility Relocations - Ongoing
- Stormwater System Installation by Athens-Clarke County - May 2019 - March 2020
- Streetscape Installation by Private Contractor - March 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.