Counties Prepare Transportation Wish List for Stimulus Funds

By Laurie Bernstein - bio | email

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Billions of dollars in transportation funding is up for grabs, and local governments are jockeying to get their fair share.

"We understand they need to be projects that are ready to go, that have already cleared a lot of regulatory hurdles, such as environmental and historical studies, and then the construction plans should be at least preliminary if not final," said Rick Jones, the head of the Columbus Metropolitan Planning Organization.

Columbus has about 5 projects on their list, costing between $75-100 million.

Some of the highlights include additions to the Fort Benning gate area off of I-185, in addition to expanding the Eastern Connector.

County officials hope it will create more access to the Muscogee County Technology Park, making it attractive for companies to relocate there.

"It's a win-win situation. We know we'll get the road we need, but now the property can be marketed for companies who will bring new jobs to the area," said Jones.

Over the river in Russell County, over 18 miles of roads are waiting to be resurfaced.

One of the biggest shovel-ready projects is the extension of County Road 4 in Pittsview.

"It's a $4 million project and we are $400,000 short , so hopefully we will be able to use the stimulus funds for that," said Larry Kite, the Russell County Engineer.

Russell County's wish list will be finalized by the County Commission at Wednesday's board meeting.

After that, the rest is up to the state.

"We're confident we've identified enough projects, and we will have them ready," said Kite.

This stimulus money is ultimately meant to create jobs.

Both counties say they hope to award the construction contracts to local companies who will hire workers here in the Valley.