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Paving season begins with boost from stimulus

April 20th, 2010 by Cliff Hightower in Stimulus

Staff photo by Allison Kwesell/Chattanooga Times Free Press Sterling Lund works on the pavement in the 100 block of Cherry Street.

Staff photo by Allison Kwesell/Chattanooga Times Free Press Sterling...

About $1.6 million in federal stimulus money will be spent over the next three months on paving projects, Chattanooga officials said Monday.

As road paving season begins, the federal money will pave about eight miles on four roads, said Eddie Tate, the city's pavement manager.

"Most of those roads, it's been 20 years since something's been done to them," he said. "They're reaching the end of their service life."

The roads include Hickory Valley Road, Shepherd Road, Barton Avenue and Dayton Boulevard, Mr. Tate said.

A winter that was harsher than expected has led the city to work on a list of road repairs, officials said.

Lee Norris, deputy administrator for the Department of Public Works, said the ice and snow from January and February left the department scrambling over the last few months.

"We've got maintenance crews still fixing potholes," he said.

After the federal stimulus money projects are completed, there could be a break on the next paving projects, Mr. Tate said.

The department now is starting the final phase of a project that will determine the best and worst roads in Chattanooga, he said. Once that is completed, the pavement department will look at the data and try to tackle the most-needed projects, Mr. Tate said.

Another factor is the city budget, which is expected to be completed by June 30. Over the next few months, the City Council must determine how much money the city's paving program will get, Mr. Tate said.

"I don't know what we're going to get," he said.

The program spends about $1.5 million a year on road paving and could get another $1 million in cash this year after funds from the water quality program are freed.

For years, more than $1 million of state gas tax money has been diverted to help subsidize the city's water quality program. But the new self-sustaining water-quality program means that money now will go back to the city's paving fund.

Pam Ladd, chairwoman of the City Council's Public Works Committee, said discussions for how much next year's budget will be for road paving would come at a later date. She said she does not think council members would want to cut any budgets for road paving or infrastructure since such programs are an "essential" need.

"It is in my book," she said.

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Four major paving projects for the city will begin in the next month:

* Hickory Valley Road from Shallowford Road to Bonnie Oaks Drive

* Shepherd Road from Highway 153 to Airport Road and from Airport Road to Shallowford Road

* Barton Avenue from Frazier Avenue to Hixson Pike

* Dayton Boulevard from Red Bank city limits to Highway 153

Source: Chattanooga

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