District 5 Lee County Commissioner Bill Williams, right, discusses plans with county Public Works Director Mike Sistrunk for the paving of Flowing Well Road in southeast Lee County Monday morning. Preparation work on the road was completed by Sistrunk’s Public Works personnel, saving the county an estimated $400,000 on the project.
LEESBURG -- Reeves Construction Co. started moving heavy machinery onto Flowing Well Road Monday morning in preparation of laying down a cement base and then paving the heavily used nine-tenths-of-a-mile dirt road.
Reeves' bid of some $260,000 to pave Flowing Well and, subsequently, nearby Donald Road is more than $400,000 less than anticipated thanks to preparation work completed by Lee County's Public Works department. And the work has allowed District 5 County Commissioner Bill Williams to cross one of the priorities off his wish list.
"When I was elected (in 2008), my first priority was the budget," Williams said Monday morning as he inspected the work site with Public Works Director Mike Sistrunk. "My second was seeing that some of these roads in this area were paved.
"(Flowing Well, Donald, Lane, Ragan and Thomas roads in the Lane Acres region) had been included in the SPLOST (special-purpose local-option sales tax) IV list of projects, but the money always got diverted to other projects. It's been about 10 years now, and this needed to get done."
Williams praised Sistrunk and Public Works staff whose prep work on Flowing Well and Donald alone has saved taxpayers roughly 60 percent of the expected cost of the paving projects.
"Our folks are tickled pink about this road," Sistrunk said Monday morning. "I don't think citizens in the county realize what they've got in having a staff that could do this work and save such a substantial amount of money.
"I went to the commissioners and told them I thought we could do this prep work and save the county money, and they were willing to take a chance on us. Because they did, where we might have gotten two roads paved with the money we had budgeted for this aggressive paving project, we expect to get seven."
Sistrunk said he and one other Public Works staff member had experience with road work, but as many as five Public Works employees quickly learned the ins and outs of what needed to be done to prepare the road projects for paving.
"I'm sure there are some contractors out there who don't particularly like us right now, but my job is to make sure we take care of the citizens' money," the Public Works director said. "I have a reputation at the office of being tight with a dollar, but I'm going to try my best to do anything poitive I can to save the county some money.
"I'm just appreciative to Commissioner Williams and the other members of the board for having faith in us."
Williams said that once the Lane Acres projects are completed, the county has targeted Armenia Road, the Leesburg Bypass, the Westover Road Extension, Livingston Road, Kinchafoonee Creek Road, the Marlow Street Extension and the Forrester Parkway Extension for future work. He said the county expects Public Works to be involved in those projects as well.
"Our Public Works crew and Mike have proved us right for putting our faith in them," Williams said. "But the citizens were an important part of this, too. When we were applying for a CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) grant to try and pave the road, they asked me to send out letters to people in the area. I sent out 90-something and got 36 replies.
"We're doing this work because it was needed. We've gotten letters of concern from law enforcement, EMS and the school system, as well as from citizens in the area. We felt it was a matter of public safety, and we're very happy to be moving forward with these projects."