published Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Polk rejects $1 million loan for bridge, roadwork

By Paul Leach

BENTON, Tenn. — Polk County won’t be taking out a $1 million loan to replace a bridge in the southern part of the county or a few miles of bad road.

Road Superintendent Harold Hood wanted to update the Easley Ford Road bridge off U.S. Highway 411 near the Georgia border.

“It’s an old concrete arch bridge, only 15 feet wide, and we have school buses going across it every day,” said Hood.

But the County Commission turned down Hood’s request after no commissioner made a motion to vote on the request at a Thursday meeting, although Chairman John Pippenger gave commissioners three opportunities to do so.

“It will really cost us in a few years,” Hood said during his presentation to the commissioners.

The bridge upgrade will cost $1 million, according to Hood, who also said the state would pay for 80 percent of the cost. However, his department does not have the $200,000 in matching funds, he said.

The loan proposal of $1 million, which exceeds the county’s bridge costs by $800,000, would also go toward a limited number of roadwork projects, explained Hood. A mile of paved road costs about $100,000, he told the commission.

The 20-year fixed-interest debt would require nearly $6,000 in monthly payments, he said, and the road department would pay the monthly notes out of its maintenance budget lines, which are funded through money received from the state gas tax.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland, Tenn. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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