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March 8, 2013

Greenway construction increasing connectivity

MILLEDGEVILLE — The Oconee River Greenway Authority (ORGA) aspires to connect green spaces from north to south creating a natural corridor that improves river access, increases recreational and educational activity and boosts economic potential. Recent Greenway Phase 2 construction and acquisition of the 250-acre Selma Irwin Nature Trail link these goals.

In a Thursday meeting ORGA executive director Dr. Heather Langston said Phillips Brothers Contracting Inc. continues successful and speedy work on the property’s north end. 

One mile of 10-foot concrete trails north of the bridge, a boardwalk over Phase 1 wetlands, overlooks and a more permanent concert stage make up the master plan. 

Creation of a 1.1-acre off-lease dog park highlight Phase 2. The park will be handicap accessible featuring water fountains, dog stations and picnic tables.

Langston estimated the completion dates around two to three more months. She praised the contract team’s work.

“It’s been remarkable to me how much they’ve gotten done in such little time,” Langston said. “Rain and flooding don’t stop them.”

A large and welcome portion of the Greenway work is the Greene Street extension project. The extended driveway will become the new, safer entrance.

The concrete drive comes with extra parking also.

“We will close the current entrance to all but non-vehicular traffic,” the ORGA director said.

Total construction costs hover around $1.3 million. The Greenway received a grant and $150,000 in SPLOST funds together with Bicycling Club of Milledgeville and Greenway foundation contributions to make the projects happen.

Greenway foundation board member Dr. Jim Lidstone said the $250,000 match for Phase 2 monies is cash or in-kind services.

“We need the funds because most of the grant money we apply for requires a match. They don’t just give you the money. You’ve got to spend to get back,” Lidstone said.

The Oconee River Greenway is always looking for volunteers or friends. Individual volunteer work hours count toward the match requirement. The grantor, whether state or federal, places the dollar amount.

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