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February 25, 2014

Sidewalk dilemma

South Pine Tree work discussed by city, county

THOMASVILLE — Several situations are being encountered in proposed improvements to South Pine Tree Boulevard.

The types of improvements, improvements locations and funding of improvements is among the topics discussed by Thomasville City Council members and Thomas County commissioners at a recent joint workshop.

Thomas County Commission Chairman Moses Gross said Thomas University officials have requested intersection improvements at South Pine Tree’s intersection with Millpond Road near the university.

Curb and gutter and sidewalks were discussed for the stretch.

Previously, a traffic study of the road was discussed to determine needs. County Commissioner Wiley Grady questioned what a traffic study would show that is not already known about South Pine Tree.

“Four-laning is not an option,” Thomasville Mayor Max Beverly said, adding that sidewalks are needed in long stretches of the road between Smith Avenue and West Jackson Street.

In reference to sidewalks, the mayor pointed out sidewalk construction would be “building in a built environment.”

“Pine Tree Boulevard is about the only street in Thomasville I am afraid to run on,” Beverly said.

Sidewalks would be a worthwhile improvement, said Steve Sykes, city manager and utilities superintendent, who questioned on which side of the road sidewalks would be built.

The road is difficult to enter at some locations, Gross interjected.

Pine Tree work would be funded by revenue from a 2012 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) revenue earmarked for city and county road and drainage work.

“That’s the critical point,” said Mike Stephenson, county manager. “How much is going to be spent on Pine Tree?”

About 1,800 feet of sidewalk is to be built along South Pine Tree from Providence Plaza to West Jackson — a project approved last year by county commissioners.

Sykes suggested county officials decide what is needed, and the city can contribute funding.

“We want a shared interest here for our constituents,” Sykes told the group.

Bike/walk trails along South Pine Tree are another improvement option, Beverly said.

Sykes said that if county officials decide sidewalks are needed from Providence Plaza to Old Monticello Road, the city might be able to incorporate a bike/walk trail.

Also discussed was the possibility of state funding.

City and county staff will work together to determine costs for sidewalks, curb and gutter, intersection improvements and bicycle paths.

“This is going to be a major project for us,” the county manager said.

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