Thursday, June 21, 2012

21 June 1901: Paving Milledge Avenue

On this day in 1901, the Athens Banner reported that paving of Milledge Avenue would happen that summer, after delays of wet weather and a city full of alumni, friends, and family of graduates from the many schools in the Athens area.

The Work Will be Pushed Rapidly to an Early Completion.
     The city authorities were unable, after all, to begin the paving of Milledge avenue before the commencement season.     First, the continued rains some time before prevented the beginning of the work, and when it became dry enough to start work, it was decided that inasmuch as it was so close to the commencencements, that the work be postponed until the visitors had left Athens.     Work will be started on Milledge avenue by the city next Monday morning. There is not much time left to complete the work by next winter, but the paving will be rushed as much as possible. A large force of hands will go to work at that time.
--Athens Daily Banner, 21 June 1901, p. 3, col. 5.

The work was scheduled to begin on Monday, June 24th, during a heat wave of two days that the Banner reported "brought most forcibly to mind the tales that Rudyard Kipling relas of the heat in India." Both days reached into the 90s by noon, until a strong overnight thunderstorm calmed the heat. 

This was the initial paving of Milledge, and was not completed until November. Rather than the more industrial block paving used downtown, Milledge was macadamized,  which means layers of broken stone were spread across the leveled road surface, then sealed with a binder. It was much cheaper to pave with this system, and repairs were not as expensive, as well. 

The entire length of the street was not paved, but the paper still declared it "one of the prettiest streets in the South." It was repaved in 1906, with the Athens Electric & Railway Company paying for part of the work, as they laid rail to Lumpkin Street. The costs were split between the city, the railway company, and the property owners. 

By 1914, Milledge was paved from Hill Street to Henderson Avenue. Two years later, 75 property owners petitioned to have the street paved from Springdale to Lumpkin. It was only paved to Woodlawn Avenue, so the following year, after complaints from residents about a Milledge Avenue that was "ankle deep in mud for the past three or four weeks," the city finally paved the road two blocks past Lumpkin Street. The longer paving was likely due to the new residences that had started to develop in the Five Points area on University Drive.

By 1923, Athens had spent nearly $1 million to have 105 miles of paved streets, and spent approximately $100,000.00 per year in maintenance and improvements. More than 50 miles of these streets had sidewalks, such as the brick ones recently restored along Hancock Street.

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