Gateway project sees progress with arrival of statues
June 16, 2011
The Follow Me and Trooper of the Plains statues arrived last week at what will be a gateway to Fort Benning at the I-185 interchange at Victory Drive.
Entering post, drivers will see two 50-foot pedestals standing on either side of the interstate with a Follow Me statue on one side and the Trooper of the Plains statue on the other. Representing the Infantry and Armor schools, the 12-foot statues, built by Bronze Services of Loveland, Colo., weigh more than 1,200 pounds.
John Flournoy, chairman of the Columbus Gateways Foundation, said the initial cost of the Fort Benning gateway was estimated at $5.5 million. The project, funded with $2 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, $2 million from the Georgia Department of Transportation’s Surface Transportation Program, and the Columbus Gateways Foundation, exceeded the budget.
“The stimulus money also came with a lot of red tape,” he said, “and caused the project to fall a year-and-a-half behind.”
After four years, residents can expect the gateway to be finished by September, with the majority of the work being wrapped up next week, Flournoy said.
The 56-acre gateway at the primary entrance to Fort Benning should have been done a long time ago, Flournoy said.
“This will help the morale for not only Soldiers, but also for the families they leave here,” he said.
Ten American flags will stand on each side of the road with 20-foot fountains in front of each. Both the flags and fountains will be lighted at night. Leaving post, drivers will see two more 50-foot pedestals with two bronze and steel eagles on either side of the interstate. The landscaping cost more than $1 million and includes an irrigation system. Ongoing care will be managed by the city of Columbus, he said. The foundation’s next project is the Traffic Circle at the intersection of Victory Drive and Benning Road.