Vidalia moves closer to building port

Published 12:03 am Wednesday, April 13, 2011

VIDALIA — Twenty years of talk is expected to become a paved road to action this summer in Vidalia.

The Board of Aldermen voted Tuesday night to advertise for bids for the construction of an access road to the proposed Vidalia port.

“This is something we have been working on for many years,” Mayor Hyram Copeland said. “I’m here to tell you that as of this summer, we are going to start the process of building the access road, starting the first phase.”

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The road construction will be a $1.6 million project. Copeland said the city has the support of the state and federal representatives when it comes to funding the project.

The overall port construction is projected to be a $15 million project.

“We’ve talked to several industries who have required us to have it if they are going to come here,” Copeland said.

The mayor said he hopes to have the entire port project complete in three to four years.

In other business at Tuesday night’s meeting, the mayor announced plans to use funds accumulated from sales tax dollars to overlay approximately nine city streets. The city has a surplus of $3.4 million that can be used for roadwork.

Only $1.4 million will be used on the project slated to begin this summer and include Murray Drive and Cross Street, among others.

“We’ll still have $2 million, and we are doing this without having to borrow money, which is great,” Copeland said.

Grants Coordinator Teresa Dennis announced that the city has been cleared to apply for a second set of grant dollars from the federal recreational trails program.

The city has already applied for funding to create a walking trail around the proposed city park.

Now, the city will submit a second application to fund a biking trail. The proposal would include $125,000 to extend the Vidalia Riverwalk south to the Bungee grain elevator and around to the former railroad track where it would make a loop back to the riverfront.

Because the south end of the river walk is prone to flooding at times of high water, the path would include an elevated boardwalk.

Dennis said after the meeting work could begin late this summer.

Other business included:

– The city approved five occupational licenses for new or existing businesses, including one for a Taco Casa, which plans to move into the former Wendy’s building at 1598 Carter St.

– Vidalia Police will begin enforcing a grass-cutting ordinance. Property owners who let their yards get overgrown will be ticketed and fined, Copeland said.