Albany to accept gateway grant

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

ALBANY, Ga. -- The Albany City Commission gave its approval for Keep Albany-Dougherty County Beautiful to accept a state grant for $372,000 to pay for a portion of a gateway beautification project.

Although initially started in 2006, the project is just now going through the final approval process, Albany Engineering Director Bruce Maples said.

If erected, the 15-foot-tall, 30-foot-wide signs and all of their green accoutrements will be placed at the Liberty Express Interchange with Dawson Road; Sylvester Road and Clark Avenue; Newton Road at the airport and Slappey Boulevard at the Liberty Expressway Interchange.

While the DOT is offering the initial funding, current cost estimates are "significantly higher" than the amount of the grant, Maples said.

Those estimates suggest the cost to build the four signs as designed -- including landscaping, irrigation and lighting -- could top $900,000.

"We won't really know until we go to bid them out," Maples said. "And when we do, we'll have a base bid and then work in deductive alternatives that would help bring the cost back down into that $370,000 range."

Maples said if the city were to trim off some of the "fluff" to the project, such as the landscaping, and make the project instead be a sign, a light and some simple grass plants, the cost could likely fall within the $370,000 range.

The grant also requires a 20 percent match from the city.

The commission won't finalize the vote until its business meeting.