County moves to widen Gillionville while it can - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

County moves to widen Gillionville while it can

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February 17, 2006

Albany -- Dougherty County shuffles around its sales tax money so some projects can be completed sooner. Some of that tax money will go toward the widening of Gillionville Road, and the relocation of the Albany Museum of Art.

If you drive down Gillionville Road, you already know how busy it can be. The DOT is pushing up a project to widen Gillionville Road to five lanes out to Eight Mile Road.

Dougherty County Commissioner Lamar Hudgins says the county had to scramble to reallocate some sales tax money so that they could buy the right-of-way land along the 1.6 mile stretch. "It was scheduled for must later, like in 2010 or 2011. And they said if we weren't ready for the contract in 2008, it would be put on hold. You don't know when it would be back on their schedule."

The county must deed that land to the state. "We're moving $1.3 million from SPLOST IV that was unallocated for road improvements into SPLOST V, so we can go ahead and purchase right a way."

But now that widening will be finished years early than expected. "This is a great time," said Art Museum Director Aaron Berger. "Just recently we hired architects."

Commissioners also tentatively agreed to give the Albany Museum of Art its $3 million in approved tax money in two instead of three installments so that the museum can move ahead with its relocation to downtown.

Berger says the design phase of the $4.1 million relocation is underway. And the museum has its sights set on the old Holman Mule Barn. "The firm will be able to go in and really evaluate what can be used, what can be maintained and what may need to be rehabbed and reconditioned," he said.

But the museum must wait on structural and environmental studies on the site to see if the old building is safe and sound, and worth the high cost of rehabbing. "With any luck, we'll will absolutely see some construction start in 2006," said Berger.

Darton College is currently looking to buy the current museum of Art building on Gillionville Road.

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