Fort Benning Gateway
The Fort Benning Gateway in Columbus, Ga., was designed to honor the men and women serving at one of the largest military facilities in the nation, including members of the infantry, who have called Fort Benning their home since 1940, as well as the U.S. Army Armor School, which has been located at the base since 2010.
The project sits at the entrance to the base and the design draws extensively from military thematic elements, including replicas of famous statues. Honoring the infantry is an 8-ft-tall bronze replica of the “Follow Me” statue—depicting Iron Mike charging forward.
Also standing 8 ft tall, the 10,000-lb replica of Frederick Remington’s “Trooper of the Plains” salutes the U.S. Army Armor School. Sculpted out of bronze in Colorado, both statues were placed atop 50-ft-tall precast towers comprised of four columns and precast concrete banding.
As visitors exit Fort Benning, they are bid farewell by a pair of 8-ft-tall bald eagles, also sculpted of bronze.
The project was constructed within the interchange of Victory Drive and Interstate 185, and included a bridge enhancement and corresponding landscaping. Architectural elements were included to hide the existing bridges while four precast towers were located at each corner of the bridge.
Construction within the 56-acre project also included two grand fountain plazas that stretch along each side of the highway. The plazas feature 20 fountains that shoot water 20 ft into the air, surrounded by 20 illuminated American flags.
Despite being the largest project ever to be constructed over a major freeway in Georgia, crews never required traffic to stop completely throughout the duration of construction. Extensive traffic and safety planning guided the project to completion without a single injury or incident to any of the project’s workers or to the thousands of motorists passing by every day.
Crews even placed four heavy precast spandrel beams while a pace car slowed traffic just enough so installers could secure the beams before traffic was released back to full speed.
Construction On Fountain Square Will Commence Next Week
Construction of the Fountain Square Beautification Project will begin December 28. The date was set Tuesday afternoon during a pre-construction conference. Pulaski Fiscal Court earlier Tuesday authorized signing of a contract with HIl-Don Inc., Burkesville, as general contractor for the project. The contract amount is $760,665.39.
The contract allows 150 days for completion of the project, meaning it will be sometime in June before the public will have access to the renovated square. Traffic will move normally around the Fountain Square area during the construction period. Russell Sitter, designer of the fountain, said most of the work around the square will be boring beneath the streets.
Sitter gushes when he talks about the new fountain. He said it will be classical and unique. The water will jut 18 feet into the air from 15 nozzles. At night, the fountain will be illuminated with 19 lights.
The original fountain had only one nozzle. Later, during the 1970s, four additional nozzles were added. Renovation of Fountain Square will be done with an $800,000 Transportation Enhancement Grant and $200,000 in-kind contribution by Pulaski County government.
Tiffany Bourne, community development director for Pulaski County, wrote the grant application five years ago and it was approved.
M2D Design Group and Bell Engineering, architects for the project, say the renovated square will be an open plaza space that will be a focal point and an inviting gathering place. Steps and surrounding walls will provide a variety of informal seating.
Center of the square will be a circular plaza of concrete paving and brick pavers. Memorial bricks will be located in paver bands. The square renovation is designed to be cohesive with and complement the plaza at Pulaski Court of Justice.
The statue of the late Senator and Ambassador John Sherman Cooper will be relocated to face south, toward First and Farmers National Bank. There will be space for another statue.
A simple landscape of lawn, evergreen shrubs, grasses and trees will create a low maintenance frame for the plaza. Six of the existing cherry trees will be preserved. Concrete planters will provide opportunities for seasonal color.
New stamped crosswalks will provide more safe pedestrian crossings directly to Fountain Square. A raised island with a roll curb and stamped concrete will be a pedestrian refuge at East Mt. Vernon Street.
New striping and arrows will help direct traffic through the square. Signage will be consolidated and relocated on mast arms.
By: BILL MARDIS, Editor Emeritus, Commonwealth Journal
Ellis Square Fountain
Ellis Square came alive with a rainbow of colorful streams of water shooting up from its interactive fountain.
Construction supervisors Wednesday night began tests on the fountain, which brings them another step closer to finishing an almost four-year project that returns one of the city’s first squares to public use.
The fountain, situated close to the City Market side of the square, consists of 34 water jets and lights embedded in a concrete plaza.
Computers control the lights, which can be set on one color – say, green for St. Patrick’s Day – or a dazzling array of hues.
“Those lights will make up to 16 million colors, that’s what they tell me,” said Brad Riner of Dabbs-Williams General Contractors of Statesboro. “(They) can do any color in the color spectrum.”
The water jets work in unison or independently to shoot 10-foot sprays, create balls of water or just burble a few inches from the ground. Water and lights also can be programmed to music.
“This is a true interactive fountain,” said Dan Smirl, owner of DMS Construction of Savannah and construction manager for the Ellis Square project. “It’s a focal point, it really is. I can’t wait to see it when the little kids get down in the water.”
The fountain cost $440,000, almost $100,000 less than originally projected, Smirl said.
Some concrete work, final walkways and laying of sod are the last jobs left on the Ellis project. Freezing weather in recent weeks has delayed concrete work, but the project is on target for completion by the end of the month.
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