Federal grant to fund repairs

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Federal Transportation Enhance-ment Program recently awarded the city of Columbiana more than $350,000 for sidewalk and streetscape improvements.

&8220;We wanted to make Columbiana more walkable,&8221; said Mayor Allan Lowe. &8220;We&8217;re very blessed in that we have a downtown. We are fighting to keep it that way.&8221;

And part of having a downtown is being able to get there. &8220;Because of our natural topography, our bypass and our downtown are separated. I personally would like to see us bring the businesses located on and around our bypass and link them up through our sidewalks to our downtown area,&8221; he said.

The city of Columbiana has contracted with Gresham, Smith and Partners to apply for grants and develop a master plan.

The firm mapped out a 4.5-mile study area that includes all of Columbiana&8217;s schools, government services and recreational facilities and then identified short-, medium- and long-range goals and their respective costs.

Completion of the total proposed projects, which include sidewalk construction and repairs, as well as extras such as lighting, is estimated at $7.7 million. The grant covers only new construction.

&8220;We as a council are going to have to sit down and determine our priorities,&8221; Lowe said. &8220;If it&8217;s just a simple sidewalk, we can spread it further through the city.&8221; The alternative, he said, would be a more complex sidewalk scheme that, though nicer, would cover less distance.

&8220;Our next step is to meet with the Alabama Department of Transportation, which is in June,&8221; the mayor said. &8220;Once we&8217;ve done that, we can designate our engineer and begin the actual design of our sidewalk.&8221; Lowe said he would like to start new construction in a year, or less, if possible