LEESBURG, Ga. — The Lee County Commission unanimously passed what Chairman Ed Duffy called an “aggressive road-pavement program” for the county at Tuesday’s business meeting.
Utilizing $1.1 million in tax-anticipation funds previously approved by the board, commissioners laid out the plans for $1.8 million in road improvements on roads throughout the county’s five districts.
“This is an aggressive plan to address some of our biggest needs over the next 12 months,” County Administrator Tony Massey said. “And these projects will not be the end; they’re only the beginning.”
Commissioners set the tone for Tuesday’s meeting with a ceremony earlier in the afternoon at which a check representing a Community Development Block Grant in the amount of $356,373 was presented for improvements on Livingston Road in Smithville.
At the meeting, Planning and Engineering Director Bob Alexander outlined a number of federal-, state- and locally-funded projects that are on the horizon for the county.
“All of these roads are on either the SPLOST (special-purpose local-option sales tax) IV, V or VI lists,” Alexander said. “We’re looking at ways to get as many of them done as possible, and one way we hope to accomplish that is to have Public Works crews lower costs by doing some of the (prep) work ahead of schedule. I think they’re capable of doing it and doing it in a timely manner.”
Local roads, which are in various stages of preparedness, on the local SPLOST list include Flowing Well Road (which is under design); the Westover Road Extension from Ledo Road to Fussell Road; 1.36 miles of Palmyra Road; 1.8 miles of Crotwell Road; Armena Road; the paving of Donald, David, Thomas, Ragan and Lane Roads; Forrester Parkway; and design work on the Westover Road Extension (from Fussell Road to Forrester Parkway), Kinchafoonee Creek Road and the rerouting of State Route 32.
Alexander said it’s important the county’s Public Works crews help get as many of the federally- and state-funded projects as close to shovel-ready as possible.
“We want to be first in line to say our roads are ready,” Alexander said. “If they’re ready, there’s a good chance our projects will be in the first band approved (for funding) in 2013.”
Duffy noted that, in addition to almost $20 million in projects pre-approved for the county if the state T-SPLOST is passed by region voters next summer, Lee County would also be in line to collect $6.2 million in additional funding for road projects of its choosing.
“This is just the beginning of an aggressive road pavement program for Lee County over the next several years,” the chairman said. “SPLOST VI has been approved by the voters for $10,738,000 in road projects. The total cost of the (projects that will be completed using tax-anticipation dollars) is $1,820,000, and $1,100,000 in advanced funding will be used. The remainder will come from SPLOST V.
“That will still leave $9,700,000 in SPLOST VI for future road projects.”
Commissioners in turn praised the plan and spoke out in favor of the Transportation Improvement Act (T-SPLOST).
“The 14 counties in our region make up the majority of the Second Congressional District, and depending on who you ask, our district is either the sixth-poorest or the eighth-poorest in the country,” Rick Muggridge said. “(The pending legislation) is an opportunity for us to create funding that will benefit Southwest Georgia. This money will stay in our region.
“In addition to the wonderful Lee County projects, there are some very important Dougherty County and other regional projects. This is an opportunity for us to make our lives better.”
Added Betty Johnson, “When I was tax commissioner, I didn’t miss many county commission meetings. But until I got to this side of the podium, I didn’t realize what it takes to get a road paved. I’m thrilled to see this list.”
In other business, the commission approved a resolution that will allow for “contemporary uses” of county impact fees; approved a quote from Georgia Power for streetlighting at the intersection of Hickory Grove Road and U.S. Highway 82; and approved an $80,000 fee to maintain TUSA Consulting to work further with the county in purchasing an 800-megahertz emergency communications system.