To widen or not to widen, that is the question facing Cartersville City Council as it considers its options for widening a 400-hundred-foot section of Douthit Ferry Road near the Etowah River.
The original plan called for the construction of about two-and-a-half miles of four-lane, divided roadway from Old Alabama Road to West Avenue to relieve congestion and accommodate future travel demands.
“Usually when you four-lane a road, you only have to build two new lanes because you can use the other two existing lanes,” Public Works director Tommy Sanders said. “The original option was to widen the east side of the road because there is already a subdivision to the west. A phase 1 archaeological study indicated it was likely that Native American artifacts might warrant further study.”
Sanders said the entire area along the Etowah River corridor is rich with archaeology.
“So we did a phase II study on the eastern side,” he said. “And the study revealed that indeed there were things there that if we built a road, it would have an adverse impact on the archaeology. When you have an adverse impact, you have to look at other options, so we began to look at the western side and did another phase 1 study. Then the Georgia Department of Transportation [GDOT] told us we had to do a phase II study.”
A phase 1 study consists of taking shovel samples from a grid while a phase II study is a full-fledged archaeological dig.
By now, the city had invested $90,000 in archaeological studies, but GDOT wanted $90,000 more for additional studies.
Sanders said there is one more option — build the road on the existing footprint — but that would mean scrunching four 11-foot-wide lines into a space meant for two lanes.
“We would have to eliminate the sidewalks, medians and bike lanes,” he said. “Then we would have to build retaining walls on each side.”
Ward 1 council member Kari Hodge wondered why the rush to spend all this money.
“I think Douthit Ferry is a very positive project for our community,” she said. “But I don’t think it’s necessary in the short term. Ten years from now we will be glad we completed it, but the problem is, I don’t know exactly how we are going to get there because of all the rules and regulations of GDOT and the feds. We have done everything they have asked — pouring a lot of money into the project so far — and they keep changing the rules. It’s hard for me as an elected official to say it’s been money well spent. When you have that many rules and regulations, money gets convoluted as to where it gets spent. With this project, we seem to just run into one roadblock after another. How much more money do we continue to put into it? I think the responsible thing to do is to put it on the shelf for a while.”
Council took no action on the project.
Council approved a resolution of support for the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) authorizing them to seek a $200,000 Old Town Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). The grant supports projects that help transform communities into lively and resilient places with the arts at its core. The grant must be matched by $100,000 from the DDA through sponsorships from businesses, civic organizations, civic-minded residents, and in-kind donations by the city.
In other business, council:
• Authorized a proclamation recognizing next week’s inauguration of Dr. Donald Green as president of Georgia Highlands College.
• Approved revisions to the pawnshop ordinance deleting scrap metal processors.
• Approved festival zones for the Chamber of Commerce barbecue on Oct. 8 and bluegrass festival on Oct. 17.
• Approved a $276,524 bid from Bartow Paving to pave six streets with funding from a $178,025.11 grant and a 30 percent match from the 2003 SPLOST.
• Approved $25,683 to the Water Department for a screw pump gearbox.
• Approved $31,725 to purchase a new transformer for the electric department.
• Approved $150,618 for the purchase of three patrol cars and a CID vehicle.
Cartersville City Council will meet again on Thursday, Sept. 17, at 6 p.m. for a work session and the regular meeting at 7 p.m. at Cartersville City Hall.