published Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Atlanta area gets road projects


by Mike O'Neal
Audio clip

David Spear

Most of the stimulus dollars set aside for “shovel-ready” road projects in Georgia will be delivered to the Atlanta area.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Gillian Bolsover Cars pass by the intersection of Pine Grove Road and Battlefield Parkway Friday. The intersection could receive stimulus money for improvements.

But resurfacing a road in Walker County and making safety improvements at an intersection in Catoosa County are among the 10 projects approved for North Georgia’s 9th Congressional District, according to David Spear, a spokesman for the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Of the 135 projects included in the $512 million awarded for the first phase of stimulus road projects, about $19 million is set aside for the 9th Congressional District.

The 13-member state Transportation Board in late February approved the formula to allocate about $932 million, Georgia’s share of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for roads statewide.

Gov. Sonny Perdue still must approve the plan before it moves forward.

Article:Georgia: House panel takes up GDOT overhaul

Article:Chattanooga: Stimulus road funding starts flowing

PDF: GDOT list of projects

Georgia’s share of President Barack Obama’s $787 billion stimulus plan includes $1.1 billion to fund transportation projects. Road and bridge work will receive about $932 million and transit projects $144 million.

The Georgia Department of Transportation will oversee 70 percent of this funding, with metropolitan planning organizations having oversight of 30 percent of stimulus funds dedicated to transportation.

Projects approved for the stimulus plan require no matching funds; they are 100 percent federally funded.

Officials with GDOT identified $2 billion worth of “shovel-ready” projects, those that could be under way within 120 days of funding approval, from more than 850 projects submitted by local governments in 59 counties.

“Big cities have the capability to put more people to work faster,” said Dade County Executive Ted Rumley, where no projects were allocated funds. “They all have a backlog of projects that qualify for phase one.”

Preparations for paving U.S. Highway 27/Main Street in downtown LaFayette, Ga., will begin in May.

“This is a project DOT promised two years ago but did not give funds to do,” LaFayette City Manager Johnnie Arnold said.

The same bid process for revamping the intersection of Pine Grove Road and Battlefield Parkway is set for June.

Steve Farrow, District 9 state Board of Transportation representative, said two additional Georgia projects will have funds distributed by the Chattanooga Metropolitan Planning Organization. Chickamauga, Ga., and Rossville each will receive about $1.1 million for streetscaping projects, he said.

“We are trying to create jobs in economically distressed areas and spread these projects across the state,” said Dr. Mohamed Arafa, GDOT’s spokesman for the state’s Northwest District. “Projects pushed back because of lack of funding are now being pushed forward.”

While the first phase was driven by GDOT staff using “off the shelf” projects that could quickly create jobs, Mr. Farrow said projects will be evening distributed by districts and determined by the transportation board during the second phase.

“The emphasis in phase one was to get the money on the road, fast,” he said.

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