City gets grant for Pace St.

COVINGTON -- The city of Covington has been allocated $160,000 in stimulus money from the Atlanta Regional Commission to produce preliminary engineering documents on improvements to the Pace Street Corridor.

The grant requires a $40,000 local match from the city and is another step toward making the Pace Street project, first outlined in the Livable Centers Initiative study several years ago, a reality.

The project will include installing sidewalks, crosswalks, bike lanes, trees and other streetscape improvements to make the corridor more pedestrian-friendly, said Planning Director Randy Vinson. The total cost of the project is estimated at $1.9 million, and Vinson said he hopes it will be completed during the next two years.

"The main reason we're really focused on that corridor is back when they were discussing the civic center and hotel project for there, that put it at the forefront," said Vinson, referring to initial plans to locate a civic center/hotel at the old Wal-Mart site on Pace Street. "With that in limbo, it doesn't seem as pressing now, but we might as well go ahead and get it done."

The ARC will be allocating stimulus money over the course of the next three years, and, having been selected during the first round of funding, Covington is in good position to receive additional money to complete the project, according to Vinson.

Pace Street was included in the U.S. Highway 278 Corridor plan outlined in the Livable Centers Initiative, an ARC program with the aim of promoting a diverse mix of land uses and housing options; giving access to a full range of transportation modes; and using an inclusive planning process. Goals of the study included improving sidewalks and bike and pedestrian access, along with creating a gateway into downtown Covington. Pace Street is one of the main feeder streets into the Square.