Main Street in Jemison revitalized following improvements

Published 12:44 pm Thursday, May 30, 2024

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By Carey Reeder | Managing Editor

The City of Jemison’s historical Main Street received extensive improvements that revitalized the area and offers endless event possibilities for the strip of road. The project was made possible through the Alabama Department of Transportation’s Transportation Alternatives Program (T.A.P.) after Jemison secured a grant for the Main Street improvements.

The T.A.P. is a grant process that awards funds to projects around the State of Alabama that provide new ways, or improvements, to non-motorized forms of transportation. Eligible activities that fall under the T.A.P. grant included the “construction of on-road and off-road trail facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists, and other non-motorized forms of transportation, including sidewalks, bicycle infrastructure, pedestrian lighting, downtown streetscape (combination of sidewalks, pedestrian lighting and landscaping) and other transportation projects to achieve compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990,” as well as “construction of infrastructure-related projects and systems that will provide safe routes for non-drivers, including children, older adults, and individuals with disabilities to access daily needs” — both of which the Main Street project in Jemison fall under.

Jemison first applied for the grant in 2017, but was not awarded the funds. However, the city reapplied a few years later, and this time it was awarded with an 80-20 grant through T.A.P., meaning the federal and state governments will cover 80% of the funds for the project while Jemison provides the other 20%.

“We had an idea of what we wanted, so we hired an engineer to design it for us, and we went from there,” Shannon Welch, Jemison City Administrator, said. “We really just wanted to give it a little face lift. It is beginning to take shape, and we have some other things we want to do that are outside of the grant, and we are going to do that as well.”

Welch added that Jemison has been turning more towards community involvement in recent months. The city has always been about community involvement, but administration is now putting it as a focal point, and the Main Street improvements are a byproduct of that emphasis.

The project on Main Street ripped up all of the old sidewalks that were next to the strip of over 100-year-old houses that marked the birthplace of Jemison by the railroad tracks. The new sidewalks now have railings, and all sidewalks on Main Street are now ADA compliant. Other improvements from the project included repainting the parking lot, adding new trees and greenery and installing light poles to brighten the street in the evening and night hours. The improvements from the T.A.P. grant added to the growing storefronts on Main Street that have opened in recent years like Olde Town Scoops and Olde Town Boutique and Gifts.

Now that improvements are complete, Welch said the newly formed Jemison Event Planning Committee of Tiffany Gaines, Lake Gilliland, Courtney Jackson, Jonna Jones, Donna Manasco, Jonathan Varden and Vickki Winslett are already getting details together for events in the space. The committee was formed in March, and other future plans for Main Street include a new stage, and select days where the street will be closed down for an evening of community and family fun.

“It is good to see (these improvements happen),” Welch said. “That is where Jemison started on Main Street right by the railroad tracks, and to have a project that we were able to get the funds to revitalize and preserve the city’s history is a cool thing. Hopefully, we can use that to put on events to create community involvement, and that is what we want. I want to thank ALDOT for their investment in Jemison, they are a great partner to work with.”