City Hall sets date for downtown dedication

It is work that has disrupted downtown Athens for several months, and now there is a date for a dedication: City Hall says December 8 will feature the ribbon cutting and the official unveiling of the renovation of East Clayton Street, complete with new public art displays.

From the Athens-Clarke Co government website…

Work on the East Clayton Street Improvements Project continues with extensive streetscape work in the area. This includes features such as sidewalks, brick pavers, granite strips, traffic poles, light poles, landscape areas and fencing, irrigation, curb and gutter, overhead lighting, and pedestrian gathering areas, among other amenities.

Some final streetscape components such as tree installations, public art, parking meters, cigarette disposal stations, and furniture will be installed after other streetscape features are finished in project areas.

The current tentative work schedule is noted below to get areas to 75-80% completion. Schedules are subject to change based on weather and other factors:

  • East Clayton Street
  • Wall Street to North Thomas Street Block (South Side – 2 sections) – June 13 - July 29, 2022
  • North Jackson Street
  • East Clayton Street to East Washington Street Block (Both Sides) – July 25 - August 8, 2022
  • East Broad Street to East Clayton Street Block (East Side) – July 25 - August 8, 2022
  • Repaving and restriping – June through September 2022 in three, 1-2 day segments (weather permitting)
  • Rainbow Crosswalk – After final paving / restriping
  • Tree Planting – Ongoing through July 2022
  • Public Art – Installation begins August or September 2022
  • Clayton Street Eco-Stations – End of 2022 (depending on fabrication/material availability)
  • Portland Loo (College Avenue Parking Deck area) – Late fall 2022 (depending on fabrication / material availability)

Sidewalks will be kept open as much as possible. Businesses remain open during the construction and access will be provided to their entrances except for possible brief closures that will be arranged with each business.

These areas have been largely completed, with mainly only finishing work and final streetscape components needed:

  • East Clayton Street
  • North Lumpkin Street to College Avenue Block – both sides
  • College Avenue to North Jackson Street Block – both sides
  • North Jackson Street to North Thomas Street Block - North side
  • North Jackson Street to Wall Street Block - South side
  • Wall Street
  • North Jackson Street
  • East Broad Street to East Clayton Street Block – West side

Tree Replacements

The trees are being planted in planters better designed for urban spaces with special structural soil. These trees will include October Glory Red Maple, Avalyn Laurel Oak, Golden Globe Gingko, European Hornbeam, Chinese Ironwood, Collynair American Hornbeam, and Biloxi Crepe Myrtle.

More trees will be replanted in the area than were removed.

Tree replacement has been a part of the East Clayton Street Improvements Project since the beginning of the project. Many of the former trees were not designed for an urban environment and were not suited for confined spaces. The planters that encase them and the soil used is not as well-designed for this kind of environment as are the currently-designed planters and soil.

New trees better suited to an urban environment have been planted in spaces that are better designed to handle their root systems. These new trees should last for decades, if not longer, without causing the problems of these older ones.

Public Art

The artist for the Clayton Street Improvements Public Art, Eric Leshinsky, continues working on his fabrication. Artwork is expected for installation beginning in August or September 2022.

Sidewalk Cafés

The right-of-way for East Clayton Street varies between buildings from 82 feet to 95 feet in this area. The drive lanes are not centered, nor are they parallel to the buildings, making the amount of space available for cafes different between adjacent buildings and between opposite sides of the street. The tightest of spots have less than two feet of space available for sidewalk cafés.

As a result of approved changes and some recent sidewalk café ordinance changes, sidewalk cafés in the smaller areas will be at least 36″ wide on East Clayton Street, while also creating larger areas for pedestrian travel.

Overhead Lighting

Low-voltage festoon lighting has been installed from pole to pole, parallel to the sidewalk and trees, along most of the corridor on East Clayton Street. Only parts of one block remain for light installation. Once the trees reach a large enough size, additional lighting will be added to the trees.

Stormwater System

A water quality treatment unit will remove trash, oil, and sediment near the downstream outfall in conjunction with the existing underground facility located on East Broad Street at the Firefly Trail entrance.

Treating this larger area will still eventually allow pressure washing of the streetscape once the project is completed.

Phase 1 of the plan will be installed as part of this project and is scheduled to begin in mid-August 2022.

Other Related Projects

Public Restroom Facility

The public restroom facility - the Portland Loo model - was approved by the Mayor and Commission on October 5, 2021.

Although outside of the project’s area and technically not part of the East Clayton Street project, it is nearby. The restroom will be located in front of the College Avenue parking deck near the intersection of College Avenue and Washington Street. Most of the installation has taken place and it is expected to open in late fall 2022.


The Mayor and Commission approved the designs and layouts of Eco-Stations in April 2021. Although not technically a part of this streetscape project, as they will be in areas other than East Clayton Street, they are being planned and designed while the work is in progress. Eco-stations are enclosed areas used to gather trash and recycling from businesses and residents in order to avoid bags and recycling being placed directly on the streetscape / sidewalk. Bags left on the curbs leak, are unsightly, cause pedestrian conflicts, and can be a safety hazard. Finance and Solid Waste released a Fabrication Request for Proposals (RFP), and one response was received that was over-budget. SPLOST is working with Solid Waste staff to evaluate other potential bidding sources, such as a state contract option or local on-call contractors. Solid Waste, the Athens Cultural Affairs Commission, and SPLOST will finalize a call for art for the wrapping of the eco-stations once the design details are completed and fabrication begins. The eco-stations are expected to be installed by the end of 2022 based on fabrication and material availability.

Current Streetscape Tentative Schedule

  • East Clayton Street
  • North Lumpkin Street to College Avenue - Only finishing items remaining
  • College Avenue to Jackson Street - Only finishing items remaining
  • Jackson Street to Thomas Street - June - July 2022
  • Jackson Street (Broad Street to East Washington Street) - July - August 2022
  • Wall Street - Only finishing items remaining

Schedule is tentative and subject to change. It is highly dependent on weather and underground factors. More detailed information will be provided in block by block and section by section areas as those areas come closer to construction work.

Project Activity Recap / Overview

  • The Mayor and Commission approved the streetscape design and the public art component in 2019.
  • In May 2020, the Transportation and Public Works Department’s Streets and Drainage Division completed the stormwater infrastructure phase of the project.
  • In the summer and fall of 2020, private utility companies such as Atlanta Gas Light and Georgia Power relocated and improved their systems in the area. Some additional utility work will take place throughout the project.
  • In September 2020, installation of a conduit duct bank for street lighting, downtown cameras, traffic and pedestrian signals, and other electrical needs started along the length of the corridor. Once installed on the south side of the street, a second conduit duct bank will be installed on the north side. The conduit duct bank installation is expected to run through fall 2021.
  • In January 2021, streetscape work began on the south side of the first block for sidewalks, curbs, and other ground-level features. A private contractor, Astra Construction, is managing the current and upcoming streetscape phases of the project.
  • Once completed, the full East Clayton Street Improvements project will enhance East Clayton Street between North Lumpkin Street and North Thomas Street, as well as North Jackson Street between East Broad Street and East Washington Street and Wall Street.
  • The improvements will include better stormwater management and standing water removal, wider sidewalks with fewer pedestrian conflicts, new streetlights, new traffic signals on fewer poles, public art, wider travel lanes for vehicles, changes to metered spaces’ angles to improve safety when reversing out, larger areas for pedestrians to wait for crossing streets, and more trees and landscaping areas.
  • The streetscape is expected to be completed by July 2022 with finishing items throughout the end of 2022.
Tim Bryant

Tim Bryant

Tim Bryant hosts Classic City Today, 6-10 weekday mornings on 98.7FM & AM 1340 WGAU in Athens.



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