Richmond Hill’s busiest intersection will soon be getting some curb appeal, thanks in part to a $50,000 grant from the Georgia Department of Transportation.
The city learned Monday it is getting the funds through a “GATEway” landscaping grant to spruce up the intersection at Highways 17 and 144.
Richmond Hill Mayor Pro-Tem Russ Carpenter said the grant will help the city accomplish something its been trying to do for years.
“It has long been our goal to improve the aesthetics of the Highway 144 and Highway 17 intersection, which many of us call the crossroads,” he said, calling the measure “an effort to improve property values of adjacent businesses, attracting more customers and provide for a better looking and greener entry into town.”
Richmond Hill Planning and Zoning Director Scott Allison said the city applied for— and got — $50,000, the maximum amount awarded by the state through the program.
Allison said the city believes the landscaping at the heavily traveled intersection is important because it will “benefitthe community as a whole by further defining our identity and character.”
“Ultimately, we want the visual appearance of the ‘crossroads’ intersection to look beyond just well-maintained. The concept illustrates landscaping and aesthetic elements that appear ‘intentional’ in order to further the significance of this gateway in our community,” Allison said.
The intersection has businesses on each corner — from Walgreens and CVS west of 17 and Hardees and Clydes on the east. One of the most congested traffic areas in Richmond Hill, DOT recently added additional turn lanes to help move traffic through.
But the “GATEway”– the GATE is short for Georgia Transportation Enchancement – grant has nothing to do with road work. It instead will help the city add shrubs and small trees and, if approved, split rail white fencing “which has long been synonomous with Richmond Hill,” Carpenter said.
Richmond Hill was one of 43 communities in Georgia awarded a total of $1.3 million in funding for landscaping projects. More than 80 communities applied for the grants, according to a DOT press release.
It’s unclear when work will begin, but Carpenter said the project is part of plans to dress up Richmond Hill. City council has adopted both sign and landscaping ordinances in the recent past. It has also created an architectural review board.
“Soon, residents and visitors in Richmond Hill will be able to enjoy many changes to the looks of our small town,” he said. “This will include the Crossroads project, the refurbishment of the Fire Station and its' planned landscaping and signage improvements, along with, possibly, incentives for businesses to improve their aesthetics.”