Newnan seeks grant to beautify Bullsboro
by Sarah Fay Campbell
The city of Newnan is hoping to beautify the area around Interstate 85 at Bullsboro Drive with the help of a state GATEway grant.
GATEway grants from the Georgia Department of Transportation are used to beautify areas around state highways. The maximum grant award is $50,000, and the city would be responsible for design and maintenance of the landscape improvements. GATE stands for “Georgia Transportation Enhancement."
Projects can be done in phases and that is what probably will happen at Bullsboro and 85, said Mike Furbush, Newnan’s landscape architect.
“We will probably be putting some of our own money in and maybe even some corporate donations, depending on how we do it,” Furbush said.
“The idea is to enhance the entrance and exit into Newnan.”
Whether all four ramps will get plantings in the first phase isn’t known. “That’s what we are looking at,” Furbush said. They have a concept but “we haven’t priced it or anything. It’s just in the preliminary stages of putting the grant together.”
The grant application is due Feb. 28.
The grants are funded with money that billboard companies pay GDOT to clear trees and other vegetation in front of the billboards.
A lawsuit was filed a few years ago over the program, and there were no GATEway grants in 2011, 2012, or 2013.
“We were actually considering one about the time that they did the reconfiguration of the I-85 interchange,” Furbush said. By the time the interchange work was done, though, the grant was no longer an option.
A number of trees were taken down for the construction of the new half-cloverleaf for northbound 85. Now, the area is grass and it “does not get mowed often, because DOT does it,” Furbush said. One option city officials are looking at is trying to go in and “reforest” some of the area with a mix of native trees that would “fill it back in. And then we could have woods,” Furbush said. Once the trees get some size on them, “We could look at possibly clearing out underbrush and putting in some flowering shrubs,” he said.
There are large grass slopes coming down from each bridge abutment. “We are looking at maybe some mass plantings of native grasses or flowering shrubs, that might give you a big splash of color,” Furbush said. Closer to the road or curbing areas, they’re thinking of planting some trees instead of the grass that is there now “to give it a more appealing look.”
He’s still in the preliminary stages of putting a plan together, but will have everything ready by the application deadline.
Whatever is planted, it will all be “low maintenance and very drought tolerant,” Furbush said. “A main part of what we were trying to do is to cut down maintenance, not only on ourselves but also on GDOT.”
Applications are often looked on more favorably if there is a contribution of local money, Furbush said.
The city of Senoia received a GATEway Grant in 2010 for the intersection of Ga. Hwy. 85 and Seavy Street. The upcoming intersection improvement at Pylant Street and Ga. Hwy. 16 will include a significant amount of landscaping and will likely become “the example we will use in other areas along Ga. Hwys. 85 and 16,” said City Administrator Richard Ferry. “When Pylant street is complete we will pursue grants to establish similar landscaping in other areas.”
Coweta County has, in the past, discussed improvements at other interchanges, said Coweta Communications Director Tom Corker. But “there was no local funding available to match the grant or to provide the maintenance and upkeep for the required 50-year agreement.”