Clayton Street Improvements
Stormwater Infrastructure Work to Begin May 13 on Wall St. (1st) & College Ave. (2nd) Intersection Areas
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 last year.
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.
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.
Athens-Clarke County Transportation and Public Works crews will work on two areas this summer to install key stormwater structures in and around the intersections of Wall Street and College Avenue (PDF map of work areas). These are the same crews who finished the Phase 1 Pre-Dig ahead of schedule last year, so they are familiar with the area and the challenges already.
The work is taking place during the slower summer months because it is more disruptive due to its location around the intersections. After these areas are complete, much of the remaining stormwater work will be parallel to the street and can be accomplished with fewer disruptions.
Key notes about the upcoming stormwater infrastructure work:
- Work begins May 13 on Wall Street and, once completed, will move over to the College Avenue area
- ~3 month effort to finish both areas
- Work takes place Monday – Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (with some Friday morning patching)
- Wall Street will be closed to vehicles during work in its area with some lane / parking restrictions on Clayton Street when work moves to the intersection
- Lane and parking restrictions on College Avenue / Clayton Street when work moves to its area
- Lane and parking restrictions will run Monday - Thursday and some Friday mornings. Areas will reopen for Friday - Sunday, except Wall St., which will remain closed until its work is complete.
- Two ACC Transportation & Public Works crews will working 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.
Selection of Pre-Construction & Construction Management Services for Streetscape in July
An RFP (request for proposals) is currently open for a private Pre-Construction and Construction Management Services company until the end of May. This company will work on the pre-planning and construction of the streetscape component of the project.
The revised full block-by-block timeline for the stormwater infrastructure and the streetscape installations will be developed beginning late summer once the company has been selected. This will allow the selected company to work with staff on developing the timeline that continues to minimize disruptions during key events and the holiday seasons.
The Mayor and Commission is currently scheduled to award the bid for these services at their July 2 meeting.
Solid Waste Dumpster Pilot Projects for Clayton Street Businesses
Related to this project - although separate from it - the ACC Solid Waste Department conducted a pilot project during Twilight weekend (April 26-27) with dumpsters in key locations for select Clayton Street businesses to use instead of placing their bags on the sidewalks.
A second pilot project will take place in the coming weeks where Clayton Street businesses are asked to use the dumpsters for 1-2 weeks in order to assess the locations of the dumpsters and other aspects of using the dumpsters.
Solid Waste staff will visit businesses directly to provide more information and answer questions about the second pilot project once timeframes and locations have been determined. If you have questions in the meantime, contact Solid Waste 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.
Stormwater & Streetscape Phases Delayed
Work to install the underground/above ground stormwater system and the above ground streetscape on East Clayton Street will be delayed by several months.
The delay is 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.
Many of these conflicts are complex with several options and need to be resolved prior to stormwater and streetscape installation. These utility conflicts include water and sewer, power, communications, and gas. These cannot be resolved by ACCGOV staff alone.
A conflict occurs when a utility structure is in an area where streetscape or stormwater items were planned for placement. Since completion of the pre-dig, staff and the design team have worked through several redesigns of the stormwater system to eliminate or reduce the severity of potential conflicts where possible.
An effort to resolve a utility conflict in one place frequently results in a new conflict in a different location, sometimes further down the road. The redesign goes through several iterations until a solution is developed that involves the best balance of the number of conflicts and the impact of those conflicts. While time was allotted for some relocations in the original schedule, more complex conflicts were discovered that will require more time to address for the entire project area.
Originally slated to start in January 2019 (Phase 3 - Stormwater System Installation) and April 2019 (Phase 4 - Streetscape Installation) on the block of East Clayton Street between College Avenue and Lumpkin Street, the stormwater work and likely the streetscape work will be delayed until the conflicts are resolved.
More specific timeframes will be developed in the coming months. A coordination meeting with private utilities is scheduled for late January to continue resolving the conflicts.
Crews with the Athens-Clarke County Transportation & Public Works Department completed the Clayton Street Improvement Project Phase 1 - the Pre-Dig - on Wednesday, October 3 after finishing up work on Wall Street. These same crews, who are now very familiar with the area, will also install the stormwater system.
As before, priorities when scheduling work will remain:
- Opening and cleaning up as much of the roadway/sidewalk as possible for Fridays - Sundays and special events.
- Avoiding work as much as possible between Thanksgiving and the New Year during the holiday season.
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.
Many of these utility conflicts need to be completed prior to the stormwater and streetscape installation. Once they are resolved, the actual stormwater system installation will go quicker as a result of the pre-dig and be less impactful to businesses and residents.
How Does 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).
While the specific timeframe will be developed further in the coming months, it is hoped that the overall schedule will merely be shifted a few months later than expected while still taking breaks over the holidays in 2019.
Overall Clayton Street Improvements Project Timeline
General tentative project schedule (updated May 2, 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 - Beginning in two areas on May 13, 2019
- Streetscape Installation by Private Contractor - TBA
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.
The removal of multi-space parking meters and replacement with single space meters in this area was a part of the project that has already been accomplished.