After more than seven years of grant requests, paperwork and waiting, Ball Ground officials say the city will likely break ground on a $760,000 streetscapes project in mid-January.

The city received a $560,000 federal grant for the project, which brought a required $200,000 city match.

Ball Ground City Council approved Thursday a proposal from Jack Burnside, a transportation project consultant, for initiation of his services as the project moves forward. City Manager Eric Wilmarth said Friday that Burnside will advise the city to ensure adherence to requirements of receiving federal grant dollars for the project. Areas of compliance include certified payroll requirements, materials and compaction testing and ensuring that a percentage of the grant money is spent on Disadvantaged Business Enterprise companies, which the federal government defines as companies that are “at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are both socially and economically disadvantaged.”

The city also hosted a pre-construction meeting for the Valley Streetscapes project on Friday morning. Wilmarth said that meeting brought together all involved parties on the project – contractors, engineers, representatives from Georgia Department of Transportation and Atlanta Gaslight – to hash out when the project will begin, how certain utilities will be moved, how long it is expected to take and other considerations.

Wilmarth said the city is excited to start and complete the project, which he said will be a benefit both to businesses and pedestrians, after waiting so many years to break ground.

“This has been seven years’ worth of paperwork for a six-month project. But, you know, when the Federal Highway Administration and GDOT give you the money, you have to jump through their hoops, and that’s just part of the process,” he said. “This is really going to extend the walkability and connection to the central business district – the core of the town – and it’ll be great for pedestrians. It’ll be a great spot for people looking to exercise.”

The project will install 6-foot sidewalks, curb and gutter from Ball Ground Elementary School to Howell Bridge Road, as well as create some pedestrian shade structures in the city. It will also include street trees, landscaping and lighting. The project is expected to start during the second week of January.

Ball Ground City Council meets at 7 p.m. on the second Thursday of each month at 215 Valley St. For more information, visit cityofballground.com.

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