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Posted: April 15, 2009 12:00 a.m.

Newton hopeful for stimulus funds from GDOT

Four projects previously approved for funding

Newton County didn’t receive any federal stimulus money for road projects in the first round of money given out by Georgia Department of Transportation, but the county is hoping to receive federal funding soon.

On April 9, Gov. Sonny Perdue approved $207 million for 67 road projects around the state. These funds came out of the $932 million the state received from February’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Newton County had four road projects approved by the Department of Transportation, but none were signed off by Perdue in the first round of funding.

County Engineer Kevin Walter said these projects had already been approved to receive state funding in previous years, but with the state in an economic crunch the DOT is using federal money to replace the state’s obligation. The four Newton County projects are:

• Maintenance on State Road 142 from the Jasper County line to State Road 12

• Resurfacing I-20 from State Road 142 in Newton to State Road 83 in Morgan

• Intersection improvement at State Road 162/Salem Road and County Road 33/Spring Road

• Widening of State Road 142 from south of State Road 12/US 278 to County Road 72

Walter said the last two projects were requested by the state, so they’re particularly likely to be funded. The state must award half of the $932 million, $466 million, by the end of June. DOT Deputy Press Secretary Erica Fatima said the DOT has already approved around $500 million in projects, but the governor has not yet signed off on all of them.

The rest of the $932 million must be awarded before the end of calendar year 2009, Fatima said.

In order to receive stimulus funding the projects had to be "shovel ready," which includes several requirements, one of which is work must be started on the project within 90 days.

Walter said he is interested to see what happens with other county projects, besides the four that have already been approved. He said projects fit into one of three categories: 1) projects already approved by the DOT, 2) longer-term projects being considered by the DOT, for example relocating Alcovy Trestle Road northward about 1,000 feet and aligning it in a straight line east-west with River Cove Road, 3) projects being funded entirely through local government, for example replacing the bridge on Oak Hill Road over Snapping Shoals Creek

He said some of the stimulus money may still be awarded to these projects, which did not meet initial "shovel ready" requirements, but the state and federal governments have not yet made that decision. He said it will be interesting to see if the money will be given directly to the counties and cities, instead of going through the DOT. This might help put more people to work quickly, but it will also be a much more complicated process.

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