It looked like a parade was marching as the mayor, city council members, department heads and even a state senator stood in the center of the road with a red ribbon.
The road extension connecting Fant Drive with U.S. 27 has been discussed for nearly 15 years. About $90,000 from the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) was allocated to the city in 1996, but the city could not acquire the property and lacked additional funding to contribute.
“The landowners (at the time) wanted a ridiculous price for the right-of-way,” said Jeff Long, director of public works in Fort Oglethorpe. “We could not do it (the extension) without Craig and Nancy Walker, who purchased the property and donated 60 foot of right-of-way (in 2012).”
Sections of land owned by the housing authority and a Fort Oglethorpe nursing home were also needed before the city could complete Patterson Avenue. GDOT funding was taken away six years ago before plans progressed. Following the downturn of events, there was a bright spot when $500,000 in GDOT funds for the re-structuring of LaFayette Road were re-allocated to extend Stewart Road and Patterson Avenue.
“Sen. Jeff Mullis worked vigorously with GDOT to get this money,” said Long, attributing Mullis' position on the Senate Transportation Committee for getting the money.
Though funding was available, construction was held up as city officials filed to condemn property connected to the nursing home. Approximately 18 months of legal action delayed the project, according to city manager Ron Goulart. Coming in at over $500,000, GDOT covered about $300,000 and the remainder was paid with SPLOST funds.
“A lot of people made this possible,” said mayor Lynn Long at the start of the ceremony. “As mayor I want to personally thank each one of you.”
The completion of Patterson Avenue is a milestone for the city and many individuals contributed to its completion. The housing authority and local citizens donated the land; Mullis along with the city council worked with the state to get money appropriated for the project.
The extension of Patterson Avenue translates to progress for Nancy Walker, a citizen who donated a portion of right-of-way needed to complete the project.
“This is what we were always for,” said Walker. “We want to see it (Fort Oglethorpe) grow. This is really important.”