ATLANTA - Gov. Brian Kemp announced on Monday that $277 million in federal coronavirus relief funding for the Georgia Department of Transportation will be dedicated to rural projects.
A statement from the governor's office said the "strategic improvements" would affect mostly Jefferson, Jasper, Putnam, Upson and Barrow counties. These improvements will mostly focus on the state's freight network. Officials said it's vital to transporting agriculture commodities, manufacturing inputs and consumer goods from production to distribution then, finally, to retail locations.
The funding allows the GDOT to move up "outer-year" plans to the forefront 13 years ahead of schedule.
"I am thankful for these one-time federal resources that will help keep Georgians working while also keeping our economy on the road to recovery," Kemp said. "Georgia DOT will be able to further enhance the state roadway network to increase safety for motorists and trucks by advancing critical projects throughout the state. These important roadway improvements will help Georgia continue to be the top state for business thanks to a world-class logistics infrastructure. Both the freight and logistics industry and Georgia residents benefit from this much-needed funding, particularly in light of the challenges of COVID-19."
The funds are valuable as officials say supporting businesses remain a GDOT priority, even amid a pandemic.
"The supplemental COVID response funds will help ensure our ability to maintain and grow the country’s tenth-largest transportation network," Rudy Bowen, Chair of the State Transportation Board, said. "We are grateful to Governor Kemp and our nation’s leaders for helping ensure Georgia DOT has the resources it needs to deliver on our commitment."
The statement from Gov. Kemp's office provided specific details on various projects:
Specific projects that will be advanced due to supplemental COVID response funds include:
• Jefferson County: This project expands US 1/State Route 4 from two to four lanes as part of the statewide freight network. Trucks account for nearly one-fourth of traffic in the corridor. The project is north of Louisville from Mennonite Church Road to State Route 540. The Central Savannah River Area Region supported the project by contributing $2 million in Transportation Investment Act (TIA) funds, passed by the 2020 referendum. The investments accelerate the project from an anticipated construction start date in late 2024 to mid 2021. The Kings Mill Commerce Park, a certified Georgia Ready for Accelerated Development (GRAD) site is located less than a mile from the project corridor. According to the Development Authority of Jefferson County, this GRAD site is fully equipped to accommodate various modes of utilities and transportation connectivity. The estimated construction cost is $32 million with a total investment of $42 million.
• Jefferson County: This project will expand US 1 from two lanes to four lanes south of Louisville for six miles. Trucks make up nearly one-fourth of traffic on this corridor, and it is on the State’s freight network. The project is from north of Nimrod Road to Louisville Bypass - between the towns of Wadley and Louisville. The Central Savannah River Area Region supported this project by contributing $3 million in TIA funds, passed by the 2020 referendum. The estimated construction cost is $38 million with a total investment of $44 million. The investments accelerate the project from a proposed construction start date in late 2026 to mid 2021.
• Jasper County: This project will build a new three-mile bypass around the city of Monticello connecting State Route 16 to State Route 83. It is forecast to reduce current truck traffic through the city by 10 to 20 percent. The estimated cost of construction is $19 million with a total investment of $22 million. The investment accelerates the project from a construction start date in late 2022 to mid 2021.
• Putnam County: This project will expand US 441 from two lanes to four lanes for nine miles north of Eatonton. Trucks account for nearly one-fifth of traffic in the corridor which is on the state freight network. The estimated construction cost is $54 million with a total investment of $69 million. The investments accelerate the project from a proposed construction start date in late 2022 to late 2021.
• Barrow County: This project will expand State Route 211 from I-85 west one mile from two lanes to four lanes including installation of roundabouts. It will provide traffic congestion relief for over 22,000 vehicles per day in a growing suburban area of Braselton. The City of Braselton is funding design of the project. The estimated construction cost is $12 million with a total investment of $14 million. The investments accelerate the project from an anticipated construction start date in late 2023 to mid-2022.
• Upson County: This project will upgrade four intersections in downtown Thomaston along State Route 74/State Route 36, including the reconfiguration of an existing five-legged intersection at Main St./Bethels St./Barnesville Highway. This project will increase safety while improving traffic flow and operations in the city. The estimated cost of construction is $3.3 million with a total investment of $6 million. The investments accelerate the project from an anticipated construction start date in late 2023 to late 2021.
Officials said the state will use remaining response funds for capital resurfacing, rehabilitation on Georgia’s state routes and interstate highways, replacing state funds that were previously budgeted.
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