PTC loses $518K grant for gateway bridge
The price tag for Peachtree City’s proposed “gateway” cart path bridge over Ga. Highway 54 West has become even more expensive. The city has lost a $518,000 grant for the project, so an estimated $1.5 million is needed for the project to become a reality.
That news was broken to the Fayette County Commission last week, as city officials made their pitch for the project to be funded by the county. Specifically, the city wants the funds to come from the “countywide” revenues from the 2003 transportation sales tax.
City Engineer David Borkowski noted that the grant funding was withdrawn due to a lack of progress on the project. The project has been stalled for several reasons, including the highway widening several years ago, a lack of funding and also stormwater design issues that had to be addressed.
According to city data, the bridge would serve 1,376 single family homes and 399 apartments in the area, providing a connection between a cart path along MacDuff Parkway and the Shoppes at the Village Piazza shopping center, in addition to the Line Creek Nature Area.
The area is already served by the new cart path bridge spanning the CSX railroad tracks, which provides access to both sides of Hwy. 54. The proposed “gateway” path bridge would allow for a more direct connection between the shopping center and nearby residents, Borkowski said.
Currently, residents using the cart path to travel from MacDuff Parkway have to go about a mile each way using the CSX bridge to reach the shopping center, Borkowski noted.
Some people are instead taking the shortest distance and crossing Hwy 54 to reach the shopping center, he added.
The city also provided data from a recent survey of cart path use in the area, as a study on a recent Friday and Saturday between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. tallied 259 people using the cart path bridge over the railroad tracks, 131 users at the Huddleston path tunnel underneath that bridge and 20 people crossing the highway at Hwy. 54 and MacDuff Parkway.
New County Commissioner Steve Brown, a former Peachtree City Mayor, indicated he very much favored the gateway bridge project, in large part because it will encourage residents to shop here.
“One thing that makes us very special is that we do things very differently,” Brown said, pointing to occasions when about 50 golf carts are parked at the city’s Walmart. “... The value you get from putting in path infrastructure is amazing and one thing we need to recognize is that corridor ... is the premiere shopping area in all of Fayette County.”
Brown also referred to the new shopping center being developed just across the border in Coweta County which features a Sam’s Club and a nearly-completed movie theater.
Brown said he knows of out-of-town shoppers who will rent a golf cart in Peachtree City to go shopping here.
“We’ve got to start thinking about what makes us special, what brings money in and what brings people into our town and makes them spend money,” Brown said.
Brown noted that spending in Peachtree City is important to the county because sales tax revenue is distributed throughout the entire county, meaning that Fayette County government’s coffers will benefit from additional shopping dollars spent in the city.
The commission took no vote on the funding request, but is expected to make a decision at an upcoming meeting.
It was a Brown-led City Council in June 2002 that purchased the 5.1 acre tract upon which the northern portion of the bridge would land. At the time, city officials said they were purchasing the land for $840,000 in large part to prevent a proposed gas station/convenience store concept that was floated for the site, which was zoned for residential development.
There was also talk of also making a portion of the site a passive recreation area, officials said at the time of the purchase.
The land purchase was criticized by former mayor Bob Lenox, who argued that council should have debated the land purchase in public instead of buying the land “before the public even knew anything about it.”