Will the new arch be a long-time attraction in Albany? - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Will the new arch be a long-time attraction in Albany?

March 15, 2006

Albany-- Controversy over a new addition to downtown Albany. Work on the gateway arch isn't even finished but it could turn into just a memory. Another project may bring the $300,000 gateway arch down.

The Department of Transportation says it could be removed if it gets in the way of widening Oglethorpe Boulevard but ATI President Tommy Chatmon says if he knew that, those blue lights on the arch may not even be shining right now.

Downtown Albany revitalization is in full swing these days. Some say downtown is the heart of the city. "It's something. I think about coming out here. I plan to come out here," says Eleanor Reddick.

Out there is where Reddick finds exercise, time with family and a fairly new discovery, the 30 foot arch at Oglethorpe Boulevard. "I love it. For some reason it makes me think that Albany is the place to be," says Reddick. But will the arch be here in a few years? There's some discussion that it could be removed.

"Why would they do that? Albany is expanding," says Reddick.

Expansion of Oglethorpe may just be the reason. According to the Department of Transportation, when the city received the permit to build the arch, the permit stated, "The applicant shall relocate and or remove any installation or construction placed on the State Right of Way when ordered in writing to do so by the Department without regard to the type of expense of the construction or maintenance work involved and without expense to the Department or the State."

"I don't think it would have been wise to move forward, to construct the arch under that premise," says Albany Tomorrow President Tommy Chatmon.

Chatmon says Albany Tomorrow never got any notification from any state or local offices regarding the chances of the arch's removal or any timelines on the Oglethorpe widening project. "Had that probability been brought into dialogue with us, I think we would have certainly been interested in talking more with the city and with the state about the direction of the state's plan regarding Oglethorpe," says Chatmon.

"If they tear it down, it would be a waste of taxpayers money," says Jonathan Mills.

Though the widening project is a few years away, Eleanor still focuses on the newest project to the city. "It's really lighting up the place," says Reddick.

But that light dould dim as the road beneath it widens.

The DOT says it's not certain what impact the widening project will have on the arch. That project is atleast three years away. Tommy Chatmon says since the city is the one that got the permit, he thinks it's better to discuss it with them, then sit down with the department of transportation to get a clear and concise understanding.

The arch should be complete by the end of the week.

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