Congressman John L. Mica announced to Historic City News yesterday that out of a $2.5 million request, the US Department of Transportation has awarded the City of St Augustine a $753,000 competitively bid implementation grant to continue the Orange Street pedestrian connection to the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.
Some of the proceeds from that award will also be used to pay for sidewalk improvements along the west side of Castillo Drive, according to City Public Affairs director, Paul Williamson.
The grant applications were filed through the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit in Parks Program on May 9, 2011, by Halback Design Group; after Halback undertook a controversial planning study that had Anastasia Boulevard merchants and some downtown residents up in arms.
The additional $150,000, awarded in full, represents Halback’s fee for analyzing mobility improvements to downtown St Augustine and to study possible improvements to move people easily as the city nears its 450th Celebration.
Congressman Mica said, “I am pleased that the City of St. Augustine and the local National Park Service officials have put together such a strong and successful proposal to provide transit connections from the Castillo to other local areas.”
According to Williamson, a formal announcement will be made by U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, on Tuesday, January 17.
“I am overjoyed that the federal government is partnering with us to tell the nation’s oldest story,” said St Augustine Mayor, Joseph L. Boles, Jr. “Our goal is to provide a visitor experience that is safe, accommodating and will lead to a fulfilling experience for everyone.”
Williamson added that these improvements are important — both for the number of tourists we expect for the 450th celebration, and for the long-term viability for the new visitors center.
Williamson is referring to the proposed Visitor Orientation Center that the City hopes will be built by the National Park Service on land donated to them by the City for that purpose.
Photo credits: © 2012 Historic City News staff photographer