Turn lanes could be installed along 10 miles of Ga. 53 in Floyd County as part of an economic stimulus package proposed by President-elect Barack Obama.

The $27.58-million project is one of a handful in the region that are on the Georgia Department of Transportation’s list of “ready-to-go” projects that could be under way within six months of funding approval.

Mohamed Arafa, district communications director for the DOT, emphasized that the state’s $3-billion list is only a preliminary document and there is no guarantee of funding.

“We are still reviewing projects and looking at other considerations before a final decision is made,” he said. “The (State Transportation) Board will play a role, and we will also consult with local governments.”

Arafa said all 50 states and the District of Columbia have made lists to provide Obama with “a road map for allocating funds.” More than 5,000 projects worth a total of $64 million have been identified, he said, and the work could generate an estimated 1.8 million jobs if they are funded.

Rome-Floyd County Transportation Planner Joey Davidson said the Ga. 53 turn lanes would be added in the median, where crossover lanes already exist, so there would be no delays with right-of-way negotiations.

“This is from the (Rome) bypass to the Gordon County line, but I think the DOT has another project that would actually continue into Gordon,” Davidson said.

The project is currently suspended, along with hundreds of others, because of a financial upheaval at the DOT.

The Rome Transit Department also made the list, to the tune of $600,000 to build a training lot for drivers. Assistant Director Phyllis Lee said the department uses a General Electric Co. lot at this time.

“It’s definitely something we need,” she said. “We’ve always put the project in our grant application, but the money we’ve been given has never been enough to do it.”

No funding is recommended for Richard B. Russell Regional Airport in Floyd County, although the new Paulding County Airport could see $6.2 million for a runway extension.

Mike Mathews, general manager of Floyd’s airport facility, said most of the airport’s planned projects are already funded through the Federal Aviation Administration.

The FAA also has been funneling Floyd “leftover money,” he said, redirected from facilities that weren’t able to use their allocation in a given budget year.

“I was told by the FAA there’s a 95-percent chance one of our million-dollar projects will be funded, but I think that’s a different pot of money,” Mathews said.

Other N.W. Georgia projects on the list

Stimulus funding also is tentatively proposed for several neighboring counties in the region.

Catoosa County could get $1.65 million to improve the intersection at Battlefield Parkway and Pine Grove Road, plus another $2.19 million to add a weigh station on Interstate 75.

Walker County is down for $1.29 million for an unnamed resurfacing project that Walker Road Department general manager David Ashburn said is probably Happy Valley Road.

Bartow County also is in line for $1.94 million in resurfacing money. Bartow County Administrator Steve Bradley said it’s likely U.S. 41 or I-75.

“We’re meeting with GDOT in early January to talk about this,” he said. “We have several other projects that could be ready in 180 days — mostly intersections, reducing severe curves and other safety projects.”

Bradley said he also plans to bring up three major projects that aren’t quite shovel-ready: the U.S. 411 Connector linking the U.S. 411/U.S. 41 interchange with I-75; Phase III construction of the Old Alabama Bypass into Polk County; and the widening of Ga. 20 from I-75 to U.S. 411.

“The funding’s up in the air on these, but they’re important to us,” he said.

The GDOT list does contain $47.89 million for Bartow County to add turn lanes on U.S. 41 from the Cobb County line to Ga. 293 west of Carters­ville.

Also, Gordon County could get $2.26 million to replace the bridge on County Line Road at Polecat Creek. The project, near its border with Murray County, is temporarily suspended.

Arafa said the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials called for the lists from each state.

The most important selection criteria is that the road projects are ready to go, he said, which means environmental approval, right-of-way acquisition and all designs and plans could be completed and the construction under contract within six months.

Click here to see a complete list of projects proposed for funding through the stimulus package.

Rome News Tribune