Trenton | Design Considerations 2018

Page 1


D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S | 2 0 1 8

tAble of coNtEnts 4













CRedits Thrive Regional Partnership

Steering Committee

Bridgett Massengill, Executive Director

Ted M. Rumley, Dade County Executive J. Alex Case, Mayor, City of Trenton William Back, Dade Economic Development Peter Cervelli, Dade County Economic Development Don Townsend, Dade County CFO and Clerk Rex Blevins, Historic Preservation Commission Sarah Moore, Historic Preservation Commission Donna Street, Historic Preservation Commission Audrey Clark, Historic Preservation Commission Cindy Richie, Historic Preservation Commission Steve Bontekoe, Conservationist Jamison Griffin, President, Scenic Dade Amy Garrett, Board Member, Scenic Dade Ashleigh Garmany, Board Member, Scenic Dade Terry Reynolds, Ragan-Smith Associates, Senior Planner/Senior Designer

Georgia Municipal Association/ Georgia Cities Foundation Perry Hiott, Director of Community Development Chris Higdon, Manager, Community Development

The University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government Danny Bivins, Senior Public Service Associate, Principal Investigator Kaitlin Messich, Senior Designer T. Clark Stancil, Landscape and Urban Designer Dan Shinkle, Landscape and Urban Designer Arianne Wolfe, Graduate Fellow Robert Hines, Graduate Assistant Allison Cape, Graphic Designer Karen DeVivo, Editor

Lyndhurst Foundation Benic "Bruz" Clark III, President, Treasurer Macon C. Toledano, Associate Director

This project was made possible by the generous support of the Lyndhurst Foundation. Thank you to the Lyndhurst Foundation for its steadfast commitment to improving communities across the metropolitan Chattanooga region.

4 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

tHe GeoRgia DoWntown RenAissaNce PaRtneRsHip BPartnership combines the skills and resources of the Lyndhurst Foundation, the Georgia Municipal Association, the Georgia Cities Foundation, ringing together a diverse mix of public institutions, nongovernmental organizations, and private foundations, the Georgia Downtown Renaissance

and the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to strengthen downtowns across Georgia. The Georgia Downtown Renaissance Partnership facilitates the creation of strategic visions, plans, and work programs for client communities throughout Georgia. The Georgia Downtown Renaissance Partnership works with government leaders and staff, downtown stakeholders, and local citizens to help ensure that all cities in Georgia have the resources and tools necessary to realize their vision and maximize their potential.

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government Since 1927, the Carl Vinson Institute of Government has worked with public officials throughout Georgia and around the world to improve governance and people's lives. From Georgia's early days as a largely agrarian state with a modest population to its modernday status as a national and international force in business, industry, and politics with a population of 10 million, the Institute has helped government leaders navigate change and forge strong directions for a more prosperous Georgia.

The Lyndhurst Foundation The Lyndhurst Foundation had its beginnings in the broad local and regional philanthropic activities of Thomas Cartter Lupton, a pioneer in the Coca-Cola bottling business. First organized in 1938 as the Memorial Welfare Foundation, the Lyndhurst Foundation identifies and invests in initiatives, institutions, people, and programs that contribute to the long-term livability and resilience of the greater Chattanooga region. The foundation works to accomplish this mission by focusing its efforts on education, conservation, arts, culture, economy, urban design and development, neighborhood revitalization, and physical health.

Thrive Regional Partnership Thrive Regional Partnership is a regional placemaking organization serving the tristate region of Chattanooga. Thrive's footprint includes northwest Georgia, northeast Alabama, and southeast Tennessee with a mission is to develop, implement, and sustain a vision for responsible and inspired growth across the 16-county Chattanooga region for the next four decades. Through communication, collaboration, analytics and innovation, Thrive seeks to optimize community development opportunities while protecting the natural treasures and landscapes that define this special place.

Georgia Municipal Association Created in 1933, the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) is the only state organization that represents municipal governments in Georgia. Based in Atlanta, GMA is a voluntary, nonprofit organization that provides legislative advocacy and educational, employee benefit, and technical consulting services to its members. GMA’s purpose is to anticipate and influence the forces shaping Georgia’s communities and to provide leadership, tools, and services that assist local governments in becoming more innovative, effective, and responsive.

Georgia Cities Foundation The Georgia Cities Foundation, founded in 1999, is a nonprofit subsidiary of the Georgia Municipal Association. The foundation’s mission is to assist cities in their efforts to revitalize and enhance downtown areas by serving as a partner and facilitator in funding capital projects through the revolving loan fund. Its services include the Revolving Loan Fund Program, the Peer-to-Peer Mentoring Tour, Downtown Development Authority Basic Training, and the Renaissance Award. 5 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S



n Georgia’s far northwest corner, surrounded by ancient and picturesque mountain ridges, the central valley of Dade County has offered visitors and settlers a scenic place of refuge for centuries. Nestled between Sand Mountain and Lookout Mountain, Trenton offers the city’s 2,300 residents a lovely, quiet small-town community surrounded by some of the South’s most scenic landscapes. With 84-mile-long Lookout Mountain to the east, Sand Mountain to the west, and an array of geologic barriers on every side, Trenton and Georgia’s Dade County have long been among the state’s most isolated communities. First linked by the Wills Valley Railroad in 1860, Trenton and Chattanooga 20 miles to the northwest are today connected via busy Interstate-59, which snakes through the valley. Visitors from across the South and further are drawn to Trenton and the surrounding area by the rugged beauty of Cloudland Canyon State Park, world-renowned caving, hang-gliding, and other attractions offering a chance to explore this area’s natural wonders. While busy I-59 and regional highways now connect Trenton and Dade County to Metropolitan Chattanooga and beyond, over the decades these key corridors have siphoned commerce and activity once focused on Trenton’s historical downtown square. Unlike the compact, pedestrian-scale accessibility offered by traditional downtowns, autocentric development along I-59 and major corridors comes at a cost to potential pedestrians and bicyclists, with far-flung development spoiling scenic views and heavy vehicular traffic creating unsafe conditions for pedestrians.

Given the array of attractions for locals and visitors alike, Trenton and Dade County officials, staff, and residents recognize the demand to improve the city’s downtown area and connect Trenton’s historic core with local schools, community parks, and beyond to popular outdoor destinations and the natural beauty of the area. Downtown Trenton offers visitors a glimpse of the community’s past with historical buildings and landmarks

6 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

Nestled in between Lookout Mountain and Sand Mountain, Trenton offers the city’s 2,300 residents a lovely, quiet smalltown community surrounded by some of the South’s most scenic landscapes. like the Dade County Courthouse, but local leaders recognize that more must be done for the community to live up to its potential. To ensure a better quality of life for local citizens, officials from Trenton and Dade County, staff, dedicated community members, and representatives of engineering firm Ragan-Smith Associates met with planners and design staff from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government to discuss strategies for moving forward. Areas of focus included restoring Trenton’s historic Dade County Courthouse, improving the downtown streetscape, and building sidewalks and trails to connect the community. Proposals for improvements in these three areas built upon years of planning and effort by the local government, outside professionals like Ragan-Smith Associates, and active members of the local community. With these priorities identified, University of Georgia planners and designers began collaborating with local officials and community members to create a planning document envisioning the future of Trenton. Generously funded by the Lyndhurst Foundation, the design solutions showcased in this report outline a vision of the quality of life improvements proposed by local leaders to ensure a vibrant, active, and prosperous future for the community. As with any major infrastructure or construction project, funding is the major hurdle to implementing of the community improvements envisioned here. The defeat of Trenton and Dade County’s recent transportation special-purpose local-option sales tax (TSPLOST) referendum eliminated an important potential source of funding for community projects. Still, short-term steps can be taken to begin to build momentum for future improvements. While many of the design considerations in this document envision long- term community projects requiring a significant planning and funding commitment, inexpensive, short-term strategies have been prioritized to help Trenton make immediate positive steps toward expanding the local quality of life with minimal public investment. Starting with small projects that create big impacts signals that the city is invested in downtown and committed to improving conditions in the community. Looking at the return on investment of strategies included here, the simple act of planting trees along downtown streets could yield incalculable benefits to future generations. Efforts like planting trees at key sites downtown, mowing the paths of potential future trails, improving existing public parking, and increasing sidewalk connectivity could all build momentum in the short term for significant community improvements later on. To help Trenton move toward the vibrant, connected future envisioned by local officials and community members, University of Georgia planners and design professionals researched potential grants and funding strategies for key community improvements including trails and sidewalks. These funding options, listed in the appendix, help ensure that this document presents viable, implementable strategies for the community. Beginning the process of securing funding now and working to implement small improvements in the short term will go a long way toward creating a vibrant future for Trenton citizens for years to come.

7 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

DoWntown StReeTscaping And HistoRic CouRtHouse GRouNds E

very day, approximately 10,200 vehicles travel through the heart of Trenton along Main Street (GA-58/US-11). In the heart of downtown, busy Main Street splits, encircling the historic 1926 Dade County Courthouse and the surrounding public square with rapid vehicular traffic. On either side of the courthouse, both Court Street and Church Street intersect with Main Street, creating a complex cloverleaf traffic pattern that hinders safe pedestrian crossings downtown. In addition to existing streets, an approximately 22,000 square foot public parking area flanks the east side of Main Street in the center of town, creating a wide, unbroken expanse of asphalt and traffic in the heart of the community. Main Street rejoins on the north and south sides of the courthouse with wide traffic lanes and an approximately 12’ turn lane. In the early 2000s, Trenton city officials began planning to improve downtown streetscaping around the courthouse. Developed by Ragan-Smith Associates, the city’s downtown streetscaping plan works to improve pedestrian safety, calm traffic, minimize unnecessary paving, and welcome visitors to the heart of the community. In March 2018, local officials, representatives of Ragan-Smith Associates, and designers from the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government began collaborating to develop landscape and other design suggestions to improve and enhance Trenton’s downtown streetscape plan. The detailed concepts proposed here extend improvements to the grounds of the historic courthouse square, creating a comprehensive plant and materials palette for downtown Trenton that honors the city’s past while envisioning a safe, attractive, and inviting center for the future of the city.

8 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

First planted at the site of Dade County’s second courthouse in the 1800s, the American elms shown in this circa-1895 photo survived until falling victim to Dutch elm disease in the mid-1900s.




ONce sheltered by a canopy of American elms, T

he area adjacent to Trenton’s historic Dade County Courthouse today lacks trees and suffers from an acute absence of shade. Particularly in the summer months, the wide expanse of unbroken asphalt and lack of downtown shade in heavily trafficked areas make exploring downtown shops and businesses on foot an unwelcoming experience. Moving now to restore shade to the courthouse grounds, existing turf strips, and landscaped areas proposed in the Ragan-Smith Associates’ streetscape plan could yield tremendous results over a short period for downtown Trenton. When it comes to return on investment, beautification, shade, and more trees are among the least expensive and most impactful of community investments imaginable. From reducing electricity use and encouraging pedestrian activity to slowing traffic, minimizing stormwater runoff, and offering a range of community health benefits, trees have an outsized impact on how an area feels and functions. In addition to offering these benefits, trees and plants speak to a community’s character, context, and history. The American elms that once flanked the courthouse, for example, were a common American street tree from the 1700s until they were decimated by Dutch elm disease in the mid-1900s. As a tough, long-lived

native tree widely adaptable to difficult urban conditions, the American elm became a standard downtown street tree for planners and designers in the 1800s. With renowned specimens found by many old New England meeting houses and colonial sites and with a lifespan that often exceeded 300 years, elms became associated with American history and the fight for independence. As was the case at the Dade County Courthouse, elms were often planted near civic buildings to evoke a sense of pride in American democracy and our shared history. Like native stands of elms across the country, Trenton’s elms were devastated by the spread of Dutch elm blight, leading to their removal more than 60 years ago. Since that time, local leaders have planted two generations of trees downtown. The last of these plantings, Bradford pears, were a common downtown street tree from the 1970s to the 1990s. Discouraged now for their short lifespan, susceptibility to storm damage, invasive nature, and unpleasant odor, the few remaining Bradford pear trees downtown are the remnants American elms flank Trenton’s of this last generation of historic Dade County Courthouse in tree planting. the historical images above. Among the most popular and beloved trees in the early 1900s, invasive Dutch elm blight began killing millions of American elms beginning in 1928, 9 including those surrounding the 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S courthouse.


n order for future generations of Trenton citizens to reap the benefits of an attractive and welcoming downtown, local leaders should work now to plant street trees downtown and throughout the city. Selecting handsome, durable, and long-lived shade trees will benefit local citizens for generations to come. In the planting plan included on page 14, 25 new large-canopy trees offer shade to downtown Trenton visitors. Due to the advancement in developing disease-resistant American elm trees, this plan proposes selecting resistant “Valley Forge” American elms to restore the historic tree canopy at Dade County Courthouse and surrounding landscaped areas. These trees would provide an attractive shade canopy and offer a multitude of benefits in addition to their historical connection to downtown. Alternative species, including the fully blight-tolerant Chinese elm (Ulmus parvifolia), native willow oak (Quercus phellos), or Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii), would also be attractive, fast-growing, low-maintenance street trees with an impressive shade canopy. While slower growing, Ginkgo trees (Ginkgo biloba) could also be considered. Approaching the historic Dade County Courthouse on Main Street, visitors aare confronted by wide expanses of asphalt. Once surrounded by American elms, now only a few trees exist to shade pedestrians along Trenton’s historic courthouse square.


AF TER Incorporating many of Trenton’s proposed streetscaping improvements—expanded sidewalks, handsome brick crosswalks, and lush planting beds—transforms Trenton’s historic core. Native trees, including serviceberry, redbud, and modern blight-resistant American elm cultivars, connect downtown Trenton to the surrounding landscape and provide a reference to this site’s rich history. 10 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

This photo shows Main Street/US-11 in downtown Trenton seen from above. Note the absence of any significant shade.


AF TER Landscaped medians and planting areas follow the design put forth in Trenton’s streetscape plan. Planting these areas with tough and attractive landscape plants creates an attractive, shaded, and low-maintenance gateway to downtown.

PlaNts ilLustraTed iNcLude tHe folLoWing: Valley Forge American elm, autumn brilliance serviceberry, Eastern redbud, muhley grass, and gray owl juniper. Dwarf yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria ‘Nana’), glossy abelia (Abelia × grandiflora), or dwarf loropetalum (Loropetalum chinense ‘Rubrum’) all provide appropriate low-maintenance alternatives to gray owl juniper. Alternatives to the American elm include the Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii) or Ginkgo biloba. 11 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S


This photo shows historic Dade County Courthouse as seen from Church Street. The absence of shade and landscaping downtown creates a harsh environment for visitors.

AF TER With new landscaping and the improvements included in Trenton’s streetscape plan, downtown has been transformed. Attractive disease-resistant American elms restore a broad shade canopy downtown. Smaller redbuds and serviceberry trees bring color and shade to sidewalks. 12 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

AF TER Installing more attractive and approachable fencing, planting street trees in proposed landscaped bump outs, and adding attractive pedestrian-scale signage enhances the overall appearance of downtown Trenton’s public parking lot. A new pedestrian crossing and expanded sidewalks improve access to this site.


This photo shows Trenton’s existing public parking lot just off the downtown square. Currently, the barbed wire fencing and absence of shade send a negative message to potential visitors.

13 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S





he planting plan for downtown Trenton uses the bump outs, medians, and unpaved areas in the Ragan-Smith Associates streetscape plan to introduce new trees and landscaping downtown. Plantings proposed for the streetscape and courthouse grounds include species well adapted to the difficult conditions often found in downtowns. While focusing on low-maintenance, trouble-free tree and plant species, the proposed plant palette for downtown reflects Trenton’s rich history and character. American elms and a ring of evergreens shrubs around Trenton’s historic courthouse reference historical plantings on the site. Additional evergreen shrubs including dwarf abelia, Indian hawthorn, holly, liriope, and more create a consistent formal landscape that uses many plant choices common in the 1920s. Where landscaping around the courthouse is healthy, existing plantings should be maintained. The Downtown Trenton Planting Schedule on page 17 contains an enumerated breakdown of recommended plant species and cost estimates. 14 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S



15 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

STreetscApe PLant PaleTte

Trenton’s streetscape requires tough, attractive plants tolerant to difficult urban conditions. The plant palette for the downtown Trenton streetscape emphasizes low-maintenance plants with a variety of color and appeal. Junipers can be substituted for yaupon hollies, dwarf abelias, or other tough low-growing evergreen plants.

The plant palette for Trenton’s courthouse grounds emphasizes adaptable evergreen shrubs with year-round appeal. Evergreen-heavy landscapes were popular for public buildings like the Dade County Courthouse in the 1920s. Selections like abelia and holly were very common elements of 1920s landscapes.









PLaNt PaLette CouRthouse GRouNds










16 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

pLantiNg scHeduLe The Downtown Trenton Planting Schedule shows the proposed plant species, estimated cost per unit, quantities, and availability.

17 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

Historic Dade County Courthouse Restoration


onstructed in 1926 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, the historic Dade County Courthouse at the center of Trenton is a community landmark and the focal point of downtown. Many uses formerly housed at the courthouse moved a block west to the Dade County Justice Center following the center’s construction in 1989. While largely unoccupied in recent years, the beautiful, two-story brick-and-concrete courthouse serves as a local point of pride for the community. Due to the availability of same-day blood tests and marriage licenses in Dade County, over the generations, Trenton became known as a regional wedding destination. Thousands of happy couples married in the courthouse from 1926 until the 1980s. With this and other history in mind, the Historic

Courthouse Preservation Committee has been working on plans to renovate the interior to its original 1926 appearance as much as possible while also adding some modern amenities. Following the renovation of the historic structure, the Historic Preservation Commission intends to house a local Regional Visitor's Information Center (RVIC) and the Dade County Chamber of Commerce on the lower level, with additional office space available to lease. Following renovation, the historical upstairs courtroom will be available to rent for weddings, receptions, and other events. The concepts and renderings that follow provide a glimpse of what the courthouse could look like restored to this building’s former glory.

18 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

The 1926 Dade County Courthouse shines in this historical postcard image. 19 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S


FIRST FLOOR This conceptual floor plan illustrates the proposed placement of various offices depending on their space requirements. Selection of these spaces also accounts for whether the departments operate with fullor part-time employees. The updated restroom facilities on the mezzanine level could be supplemented by a single ADA-accessible restroom in one of the offices in the main floor.


20 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

21 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

DAde County CourThousE SECOND FLOOR





A variety of seating arrangements could work in the courtroom, a versatile multiuse space that could be used for weddings, receptions, church services, reunions, banquets, and meetings.

OPTION 1: Round Tables: This option shows twelve (12) 60-inch eight-top tables for a total seating capacity of 96.

OPTION 2: Banquet, A: This option includes twelve (12) 30” x 96” eight-top rectangular banquet tables, also seating 96, with three standing cocktail tables added.

OPTION 3: Banquet, B: This option shows twelve (12) 30” x 96” eight-top rectangular banquet tables seating a total of 96. This option includes six additional standing cocktail tables.

OPTION 4 (Ceremony): This options shows the courtroom at maximum capacity, with 14 rows of 11 seats accommodating 154 guests. Additional seating could be added to the area behind the jury rail if needed, or this space could serve as the standing area for a bridal party or a presenter.

OPTIONS 1–3: The addition of buffet tables, a wedding cake table, a dance floor, and the like will decrease overall seating numbers. These items could either be placed in the area behind the jury rail or in the main seating area. There are many ways to accommodate these and other typical reception elements.

22 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

This photograph shows the corner office on the south side of the courthouse. Original brick walls are intact, and 1950s-era green paint is also visible.



The rendering shows the corner office for two part-time employees from the Regional Visitors Information Center with the following details: • 1920S-INSPIRED INTERIOR










23 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S


couRtroom This rendering shows the courtroom being used for a wedding reception. As a multipurpose event space with an adjacent kitchen, the courtroom could be used for wedding ceremonies, family reunions, anniversaries, meetings, birthday celebrations, and more. The following details are shown:


24 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

The photograph below shows the courtroom in the midst of renovation. The original seats will be removed and stored. Some could be used in the hallways on the first floor for additional guest seating.

BEFORE 25 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S



ecent downtown connectivity improvements including the new sidewalks along Main Street from Industrial Boulevard to Lookout Pointe apartments have improved downtown’s accessibility. Building on these improvements, Trenton leaders have decided to explore the broader connectivity of the community. Specifically, the city focused on two key objectives: safer routes to Dade County schools and connecting to the nearby Cloudland Canyon State Park. The sidewalk and streetscape improvements recently completed along Main Street are a great starting point for developing community-wide connectivity. With limited resources and the need to link points of interest across a two-mile area, however, an effective strategy must include a range of economical connectivity options. An analysis of potential routes connecting the elementary, middle, and high schools revealed several practical and economical sidewalk and trail options. Several elements of trail and sidewalk expansion included here could be implemented inexpensively and in a short time frame. Simply maintaining a mow line to demarcate the path of future paved trails could build momentum for future trail and sidewalk improvements. The grants and funding options included in the digital appendix provide tools to help local leaders secure funding for sidewalk and trail extensions over time with a minimal initial investment.

Creating safe routes to school is the main priority of this connectivity plan. Trenton sits beside Interstate-59, at the junction of GA-136 and GA-58/US-11. Trenton’s major corridors are designed to move automobile traffic through the center of town as quickly as possible. With priority given to rapid vehicular traffic, pedestrians are often placed in inhospitable and even dangerous situations. For a community with three major schools within two miles of the downtown core, prioritizing pedestrian travel with safe sidewalks is necessary to protect children and families.

A lack of sidewalks creates conflict between pedestrian and vehicular traffic, often pushing pedestrians near or onto the roadway.

A lack of sidewalks creates conflict between pedestrian and vehicular traffic, often pushing pedestrians near or onto the roadway. Conversely, in areas without sidewalks, pedestrians may simply be pushed off the road into ditches and difficult-to-traverse topography. Posted speed limits over 25 miles per hour (mph) throughout the city can pose life-threatening risks to pedestrians, as the fatality rate from automobile impacts rises sharply at and above 25 mph. Sidewalks increase pedestrian safety by providing a defined and separated pathway and creating a curbed barrier. Crosswalks, signage, lighting, and street trees all enhance overall pedestrian safety, slowing traffic and creating visual barriers to prioritize the pedestrian experience.

26 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

PotentiAl Trail and SideWalk PAving Costs Planners at the Carl Vinson Institute of Government researched average costs for new trail construction using a variety of materials. The typical paving costs listed below were determined by an assessment of current pricing for materials per square foot regionally. Estimates do not include extensive site work (grading), equipment and delivery costs, or a percentage allowance for general contractor supervision.












Connectivity is the ability to easily travel to and from various points throughout an area along multiple routes. Each route prioritizes multiple sets of transportation options, from walking and jogging to biking and horse-back riding to automobiles, trains, and other motorized vehicles. A connectivity plan focuses on short-and long-term goals for connecting key points of interest throughout a community. In Trenton, the focus is on safe sidewalks and trails connecting Dade County schools and local parks.

mulching, gravel, or asphalt, is a much simpler process than installing sidewalks along GDOT routes, which involves lots of red tape. Simply maintaining a mowed path at the site of future trails in the short term could signal that Trenton is invested in improving public safety and connecting the community. Local officials should also investigate potential funding options to support sidewalk extensions and trails through grants and other programs. Together, sidewalks and trails in Trenton can be the cornerstone of a city-wide Safe Routes to School program.

Trails bring several features to a heavily automobile reliant community. In the case of Trenton, trails offer a more direct route between schools. They also provide a safer off-street path to points of interest in a setting that is often more pleasant than street-fronting sidewalks. They can also be a public health amenity, providing active recreation opportunities, an alternative to driving throughout a community, and a fun, family-friendly activity for the community to enjoy. Finally, their relative informality can make implementation more quick and feasible in the shortterm. Demarcating the trail’s pathways, either with mowing,

Combining strong sidewalk infrastructure with trail networks creates multiple connectivity options between points of interest and particular neighborhoods. With homes distributed across the Trenton city limits, providing several connectivity options would serve a greater portion of the population, while improving overall convenience and access to pedestrian amenities. The more interconnected these neighborhoods become, the more likely that residents will use and appreciate the amenities.

27 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

Main stReet strEeTscape AFTER



After 10 years, this minimal investment could pay dividends, beautifying this area and providing much needed shade for pedestrians. This simple and low-cost approach could enhance the experience of visiting and exploring downtown Trenton.

BEFORE Trenton’s Main Street (GA-58/Highway 11) is the key entryway to downtown and a major thoroughfare. However, without much activity, the areas approaching downtown can look rather barren.

28 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S




Enhancing the public right-of-way with the simple addition of 12 trees beautifies the approach to Trenton’s town square. 29 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

Main stReet FLea MarkeT Jo Jo’s Gallery and this large gravel lot on Main Street are currently used as a flea market space. On days without a flea market, this lot appears vacant.


A F TER A fresh coat of paint for the whole building, creative signage, and minimal plantings can beautify the structure. Planting street trees can also beautify the area and provide shade for flea market shoppers.

30 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

PRICe STreEt LOt FARMER'S MARKET Locating the Trenton Farmers’ Market on this highly visible downtown lot could expand programming downtown and attract more patrons to this important community program.


Located on Price Street just off Main Street, this vacant, publicly owned lot adjacent to Jenkins Park holds potential for expanded community use.

BEFO RE 31 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

sAfe Routes To schooL C

urrently, no sidewalks connect Dade County Elementary, Middle, or High School to downtown, Jenkins Park, the surrounding neighborhoods, or even each other. Aside from Main Street itself, only a few areas of town have a piecemeal sidewalk network. With the safety of children of prime importance, the first step toward greater community connectivity is linking the schools. With only 6,800 linear feet of additional sidewalk needed, all three schools could be connected along GA-136. However, given that this busy state highway has posted speed limits as high as 55 mph, this is not necessarily the safest or most pleasant path for schoolchildren to use. With this in mind, research into a safe and more pleasant alternative route between schools was conducted. A trail along Trenton’s Town Creek could connect all three schools with only 5,700 linear feet of path, a full 1,100 feet shorter than state highway sidewalks. This route has the added bonus of connecting local schools and other community assets to Jenkins Park. Rather than running along busy GA-136, this trail option runs along Town Creek, distancing children and families from the hazards of rapid highway traffic. Further connecting a sidewalk along GA-136 from Dade County High School to Cloudland Canyon State Park would

require another 6,600 linear feet, or 1.25 miles, of on-street sidewalk, again putting pedestrians near the roadway. Taking an alternative route from Dade County High School through Sells Lane could connect Trenton to Cloudland Canyon State Park with an extended trail system. Though 4,000 linear feet (.75 miles) longer at a total of 10,600 linear feet, or two miles, this leisurely path would require significantly less infrastructure. This route is already paved and currently offers a trail-like atmosphere. Due to this route’s minimal level of vehicular traffic, using painted street markings known as “sharrows” could effectively indicate the presence of bicycle traffic to drivers. Sharrows along this set of roadways could safely carry pedestrians and bicyclists to the state park through a much more leisurely and scenic route than direct sidewalks would. The city could examine available funding options and decide where and whether to implement sidewalks through these neighborhoods, as such infrastructure is not essential to creating a unique and safe in-town trail system. With that in mind, this route could provide an inexpensive and safe attraction for bikers, hikers and more. Bridging Lookout Creek with a small pedestrian bridge and crossing GA-136 at Canyon Park Drive are the only real infrastructure requirements, creating a significant local trail system for a fraction of the cost of building new trails from the ground up.

32 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

The map above shows Trenton’s existing network of sidewalks and potential locations for sidewalks connecting the community to Dade County schools.

• Dade County schools are highlighted in yellow. • Green lines show existing sidewalks. • Red lines indicate the absence of sidewalks. • Blue lines indicate preferred locations for Safe Routes to School sidewalks.


2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

CuRb cuT MinimizAtion The walk along Highway 136 West contains numerous curb cuts and piecemeal sidewalks. Large curb cuts prioritize speedy vehicular movement and pose risks to pedestrians, including students walking to lunch or to and from school.



The rendering above illustrates a 6’-wide sidewalk and 6’ vegetated buffer installed in the ample existing right-of-way. Removing excessive curb cuts along this corridor, striping crosswalks, and installing rectangular rapid flash beacon pedestrian signage further enhances safety. Street trees provide shade and make for a more pleasant and attractive experience along this key corridor. 34 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

PEdesTrian Refuge Limiting excessive asphalt outside of drive lanes with curbs, sidewalks, and vegetated buffers makes crossing the on-ramp area less daunting. Installing yield-to-pedestrians signage and crosswalks helps drivers recognize areas to slow down. Plantings and street trees also beautify the area.



Highway 136 West bridges over Interstate-59 and provides a key connection to Dade County Middle School. Currently, Highway 136 West's wide expanses of unimpeded asphalt make it a dangerous area for pedestrians and children walking to and from school.

35 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

Installing a safety wall between vehicular and pedestrian traffic protects children walking to Dade County Middle School from harm. Excessive lane widths can be reduced to enlarge sidewalks. Painting existing walls with murals showcasing Dade High School’s many state wrestling championships could beautify this bridge and instill a sense of community pride. Painting the sidewalk with Dade County Wolverine paw prints further adds character and serves as a wayfinding tool.


bRidge at Hwy 136 oveR i-59 BEFORE Currently, crossing Interstate-59 along the five-lane Highway 136 West as a pedestrian is an undesirable experience. Built to maximize vehicular speeds and capacity, pedestrian safety along this span was an afterthought. Repurposing some of the excessive lane widths here would make it possible to increase pedestrian safety.

36 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

sideWaLks DADE MIDDLE SCHOOL Fully connecting the sidewalk system and enhancing the safety of crossings provides safe walking routes to each school and ensures Dade County children can get between school and home safely.


There are currently several gaps in the sidewalks connecting neighborhoods to Dade County schools, making it difficult and sometimes dangerous for children to walk to school.

B E FOR E 37

2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

38 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

TOwn CReek tRaIl R

unning through the heart of Trenton, Town Creek flows west to east from White Oak Gap Spring, passing Dade Middle and Elementary Schools, flowing under I-59 and GA-136, and through Jenkins Park. By building on and expanding the existing trail in Jenkins Park, local officials could construct a Town Creek Trail to link two out of three schools to the park and adjacent neighborhoods. Eastward, where Town Creek intersects the railroad and flows into Lookout Creek, Sunset Drive could provide a further quarter-mile link to connect this potential pathway to Dade County High School. The proposed creek trail, with a minor extension along Sunset Drive, could complete a safe, pleasant, and direct route between Trenton’s three public schools. Measuring 5,700 linear feet long, a full 1,100 linear feet shorter than potential sidewalks along GA-136, this trail along Town Creek could provide the community with a safe, useful, and economical route and major economic development tool. A trail along Town Creek would also add an incredible amenity for Trenton and Dade County residents, effectively connecting the community and extending Jenkins Park along a linear park system to each Dade County school.

The map on the left illustrates potential routes for a trail along Town Creek connecting downtown Trenton with parks and schools. •Proposed Safe Routes to School sidewalks are shown in blue. •The potential Town Creek Trail is denoted by the dashed green line. •Dade County Schools and parks are outlined in yellow.

39 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

Town cReek couRthouse trAil AF TER Over time, if demand and interest grows, paving the path in asphalt, gravel, or mulch could improve the trail and decrease long-term maintenance.

BEFORE The railroad bridges Town Creek at the edge of Jenkins Park, creating a traversable tunnel to Sunset Drive. The area shows signs of use by the community.

40 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

HOW TO START Simply adjusting the mowing regime could define this space as a potential trail. Mowing the path of the proposed trail at a lower height increases visibility and makes traversing the terrain easier. Allowing the hillside to grow into a prairie-style pollinator meadow beautifies the experience. Placing painted rocks along the path at regular intervals helps with wayfinding and brands the trail system. Seeding in a wider variety of blooming prairie plants and planting a few more trees transforms this underutilized space into a community amenity. 41 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

BEFOR E The railroad bridges Town Creek at the edge of Jenkins Park, creating a traversable tunnel to Sunset Drive. Currently the area shows signs of use by the community.

42 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

toWn cReek Trail bRidge Formalizing this connection under the railway with a boardwalk encourages a safer passage, keeping pedestrians and trains from occupying the same space. Branding the trail can include murals or even reverse graffiti on the bridge itself.


43 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

cLoudland caNyon connEctioN W

ith such an incredible natural resource right at the community’s doorstep, creating a connection to Cloudland Canyon State Park is key to improving the community’s quality of life and attracting new residents to town. With limited parking spaces at the park’s north gate, increasing the accessibility of the site by foot or bike invites more convenient usage by the community. Extending the sidewalks along GA-136 all the way to Canyon Park Drive could link downtown amenities and all three Dade County schools to the neighborhoods east of Lookout Creek. The pathway could be further extended along Canyon Park Drive to the Canyon Park pool house using a stateowned 10’-wide property adjacent the roadway. Such a trail would fully extend from downtown and Dade County Middle School all the way to Cloudland Canyon State Park. This section would require 6,600 linear feet (1.25 miles) of sidewalk/multiuse pathway.

The map on the right shows potential routes for trails and sidewalks connecting downtown Trenton to Cloudland Canyon State Park. •Phase I: Safe Routes to School sidewalks are shown in light blue. •Phase I: Town Creek Trail is denoted by the dashed light green line. •Phase II: Cloudland Canyon sidewalks are shown in dark blue. •Phase II: Cloudland Canyon Trail is shown by the dashed dark green line. •The properties outlined in red are state-owned. •The properties highlighted in yellow are county-owned.

44 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

45 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

HOW TO START Mowing or mulching the proposed path and installing minimal planting is an economical short-term strategy to formalize the idea of a community trail and encourage further community use. Painted rocks serve as a wayfinding tool and uniquely brand the trail system.


cLoudland park dRive

Canyon Park Drive is the current route to Cloudland Canyon State Park’s north gate. The state of Georgia owns a 10’-wide parcel along the road edge, offering the potential to install a trail connection to the park. Currently, an informal “cow path” or desire line along the roadway indicates community use.

46 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

OPTION 1: MULCH Below and left: Simply clearing out invasive species, spreading a mulch path, and painting a distinctive rock sign could advertise this potential pathway and attract users.

OPTION 2: ASPHALT If use continues to increase over time, the path could be upgraded to asphalt. 47 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

cLoudland caNyon tRailHead



Installing a mulch path with signage and native plantings welcomes residents to the park. Gravel and asphalt are also other great material options for the trail.

This state-owned property abuts the Canyon Park pool house all the way out to Canyon Park Drive. This could be a new entry point and trailhead.

BEFORE 48 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S


Upgrading the pathway over time to fine gravel provides a stable, long-lasting, and affordable paving for trail users.


Like other portions of proposed trails, if use continues to increase over time, the path could be upgraded to asphalt.

49 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

The Scenic Route E

xtending sidewalks along GA-136 to Cloudland Canyon State Park would significantly improve Trenton’s overall connectivity. However, sidewalks here may not provide the safest or most pleasant experience for pedestrians and bicyclists. Alternative routes were assessed and one potential “scenic route” stood out. Extending sidewalks through the campus of Dade County High School to the adjacent Sells Lane neighborhood would provide a much safer, quieter, and more attractive potential route for a trail to Cloudland Canyon State Park. The southwest corner of Dade County High School opens up onto Bernice Drive. Rounding the bend from Bernice Drive to Sells Lane and continuing onto the Dade County property along Lookout Creek, where residents frequently launch canoes and kayaks, could provide a wonderful point of interest and potential destination for a trail along this route. By bridging the creek here and continuing a potential trail along Lookout Creek Road and beyond to Cherokee Trail, users would be within 400 feet of Canyon Park Drive. From here, continuing the path along the 10’-wide state-owned property adjacent to Canyon Park Drive would allow users to arrive at the Canyon Park pool house. This potential trail would require between 5,000 and 7,000 linear feet (1–1.25 miles) of sidewalk/multiuse pathway. As both this potential route and sidewalks along GA-136 would require similar investments in infrastructure, opting to extend a path along this scenic route could

create an incomparable quality of life amenity. Compared to conventional roadside sidewalks, this separated trail could offer users a vastly improved experience with scenic character. Over the long term, local leaders should consider developing plans to implement both a trail connection to Cloudland Canyon and a sidewalk along GA-136 to create greater connectivity, circulation, and convenient accessibility to accommodate a wider range of residents. Note, however, that the use of sharrows along Sells Lane, Lookout Creek Road, and Cherokee Trail could minimize the need for sidewalks, further reducing the trail’s overall cost. Sells Lane, the quiet side street running along Lookout Creek behind the high school, is key to this proposed scenic route. With minimal levels of existing traffic and a beautiful setting, the roadway itself features many of the amenities a great multi-use trail would offer. Canopied with heavy vegetation, this winding path boasts undisturbed hillside views to the north and pastoral farmland to the south. With these and other assets, Sells Lane provides the setting for a readymade trail. By simply painting sharrows, this roadway could quickly become a desirable community amenity. Sharrows could additionally provide a unique opportunity for extending Trenton’s recent branding efforts and could be coordinated to match Scenic Dade’s signage plan, or the city could develop a unique brand for the Town Creek/Cloudland Canyon Trails.

50 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

SHARROWS are painted signs on the ground that indicate where bikes and vehicular traffic share the road. With the cost of a can of paint and a stencil, Trenton can expand its local trail system along some of the city's quieter streets. Below are examples of branding with Cloudland Canyon or the Dade County Wolverine Mascot that could act as wayfinding signage and personalize trails.

51 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

SIDeWaLk anD trAIl FUnDInG OPTIOnS The Appalachian Regional Commission The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) provides financial investment and technical assistance to eligible applicants in support of community and economic development in Georgia’s 37 county Appalachian region. ARC is a regional economic development agency that represents a partnership of federal, state, and local government. Established by an act of Congress in 1965, ARC is composed of the governors of the 13 Appalachian states and a federal co-chair, who is appointed by the president.

ARC invests in activities that address the five goals identified in the Commission's strategic plan:

Goal 1: Economic Opportunities

Invest in entrepreneurial and business development strategies that strengthen Appalachia’s economy.

Goal 2: Ready Workforce

Improve the education, knowledge, skills, and health of residents to work and succeed in Appalachia.

Goal 3: Critical Infrastructure

Invest in critical infrastructure; especially broadband; transportation, including the Appalachian Development Highway System; and water/wastewater systems.

Goal 4: Natural and Cultural Assets

Goal 5: Leadership and Community Capacity

Georgia will invest in projects consistent with those priorities identified in the Governor's Annual State Strategy Statement, found at

Strengthen Appalachia’s community and economic development potential by leveraging the Region's natural and cultural heritage assets.

Build the capacity and skills of current and next-generation leaders and organizations to innovate, collaborate, and advance community and economic development.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources – Land and Water Conservation Fund Grants Created by Congress in 1964, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) provides money to federal, state, and local governments to purchase land, water, and wetlands for the benefit of all Americans. The LWCF assists local governments with acquiring conservation lands and developing outdoor recreation facilities. Administered in Georgia by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR), LWCF grants award state and local governments matching funds for the acquisition and development of public outdoor recreation areas and facilities. LWCF grants require grant recipients to provide a minimum of 50% matching funds for each selected project. In-kind support including labor can be applied to the 50% community match.

• This 50/50 matching grant is for land acquisition and the development of outdoor recreation areas and facilities. • Planning, acquisition, and development can be packaged with LWCF grant funds. • Grants can be used for redevelopment of older recreation facilities including improved access that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 52 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

• Seventy-five percent of funds have gone to small, local parks rather than to larger statewide or nationally significant parks.

• To be eligible, grant requests must fall within the $25,000–$100,000 range. • Any improvements are preserved in perpetuity. • See for program guidance. • Contact: Antoinette Norfleet, Director of Grants | Email: | Phone: 770-389-7264

Georgia Department of Natural Resources – Recreational Trails Program Funded by the US Highway Trust Fund, the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) provides grants to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities. The RTP program awards grants to city and county governments, federal agencies, authorized commissions, and state agencies. The Federal Highway Administration manages RTP, but the program is administered by the states. In Georgia, the RTP program is administered by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

• This program provides funding for trail construction, trail maintenance, and trail education. • RTP provides and maintains recreational trail and trail-related facilities within the statewide comprehensive outdoor recreation plan.

• Grant recipients pay 100% of upfront cost but are eligible for an 80% reimbursement. • Donations including land value, services or materials, and in-kind labor and equipment can count toward the 20% matching cost.

• Grant funds cannot be used for sidewalks, lighting, roads, and other nonrecreational trail uses. • See for more information. • Contact: Jodie Gardner, Program Manager | | Phone: (404) 463-1779 • Contact: Audrey Camp, Outreach Coordinator | | Phone: (404) 463-1030

Georgia Department of Transportation – Safe Routes to School The Safe Routes to School program works to improve safety, connectivity, public health, and livability and to reduce traffic congestion. Funded by the federal Safe Routes to School program, Georgia’s Safe Routes to School program is administered by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). While eligible projects do not require a local match, program funding is capped at $500,000 per application, per funding cycle. These limits mean program phasing may be necessary on larger projects.

• All infrastructure projects must be located within a two-mile radius of public or private schools with students in

• Schools must be enrolled and active in the Georgia Safe Routes to School Resource Center to be eligible. • Projects must be within a public right-of-way. • Eligible infrastructure projects include sidewalk improvements, traffic-calming and speed-reduction improvements,

kindergarten through eighth grade.

pedestrian and bicycle crossing improvements, on-street bicycle facilities, off-street bicycle and pedestrian facilities, bicycle parking facilities, and traffic diversion improvements.

• See for program guidance and a comprehensive list of eligible projects. • Contact: Patti Pittman | | Phone: (404) 593-9569 53 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

Georgia Department of Transportation – Roadside Enhancement and Beautification Council Grant Formerly known as the GATEway Grant Program, the mission of the Roadside Enhancement and Beautification Council (REBC) Grant Program is to provide funding for roadside enhancement and beautification projects along Georgia’s roadsides. The funds may be used only for landscape plant material and its installation to encourage roadside enhancement and beautification projects along state routes in Georgia. Any organization, local government, or state agency may apply for grants for landscape enhancement of a state right-of-way that involves the local community, displays the right-of-way in an attractive fashion, and promotes pride in Georgia.

• Grant recipients are not required to provide matching funds.

• The maximum amount of grants is capped at $50,000.

• Applicable landscape enhancements must comply with GDOT’s 6755-9 policy landscape standards.

• As a reimbursement grant, the project must be installed before funds are dispersed.

• Plant material, sod, topsoil, mulch, and associated labor costs are eligible for REBC funding.

• See for program guidance.

Trust for Public Land The Trust for Public Land works with government agencies, farmers, civic organizations, and citizens to preserve America’s natural wonder. The Trust has helped preserve 3.3 million acres of property and completed 5,400 park and conservation projects since 1972.

• See for more information.

54 2 0 1 8 T R E N TO N D E S I G N C O N S I D E R AT I O N S

Turn static files into dynamic content formats.

Create a flipbook
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.