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River District update

Wednesday, May 10, 2023–8:44 p.m.

-David Crowder, WRGA News-

Water and sewer work in the River District, funded in large part by a 2019 Appalachian Regional Commission grant, is complete. Now the City of Rome is looking to the next step, which is the conversion of overhead utilities to underground.

Aaron Carroll, director of engineering services for the city, gave an update during Wednesday’s traffic, transit, and public works committee meeting.

He said Georgia Power is working to get a financial number for that portion of the project. According to Carroll, that will be a big number.

“Redoing of the lighting to underground, I think the latest estimated was $250,000,” he said. “That’s just for the lighting portion.”

The city has put out a request for bids for electricians to perform an evaluation to come up with an estimate for what it would take to convert the older buildings in the River District from overhead to underground utilities, and also make them compliant with all local regulations. The building inspection department will also be involved in that process.

“Those buildings will have to be reworked for compliance with new regulations,” Carroll said. “Some of those buildings may potentially need a complete rewiring job because some of the power meters are actually inside the building, on the wall with a fuse box that still has screw-in fuses. We all know that’s not current code.”

Money from the 2017 special purpose, local option sales tax was earmarked to revamp the River District. That includes a streetscape project. Pond & Company is still working on the plans.

“The consultant has given me a Jun. 2 deadline of having the plans finished,” Carroll told the committee. “He also gave me an estimated projection, not including the Georgia Power work, of $2.6 million.”

Carroll also update the committee on the Georgia Department of Transportation’s proposed widening of Second Avenue, which could coincide with the work in the River District. GDOT has awarded a bid of just over $26 million.

“So, that project will be cranking up soon,” he said. “That project is two and a half years long. The main detour is right up West Third Street to Fifth Avenue to the intersection, and then down Fifth Avenue along Avenue A and back to Turner McCall.”

Carroll also noted a traffic change in the area as part of the construction of the NOVA project, which is the development of 242 multi-family housing units, commercial space, a two-acre community park, and a proposed tie-in to the trail system.

According to Carroll, they have to lay storm and sewer parallel to West Third, so there will probably be a lane closure during the daytime hours, but the parking at the tennis center will remain open.